Liberty Island wins this year’s Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo.
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) winner and heavy favorite Liberty Island validated her Best Two-Year-Old Filly title of 2022 and her recent G1 victory last month by staging another dominant performance in this year's Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). The Duramente filly followed last year's winner, Stars on Earth, as the 17th horse to capture the first two of the fillies' Triple Crown while becoming the first since 1975 to win by a margin exceeding six lengths—2012's fillies' Triple champion, Gentildonna, was the closest at five-lengths margin in recent years. The last G1 victory for both trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida and jockey Yuga Kawada was with the same filly in the Oka Sho and it was the seventh JRA-G1 victory overall for Nakauchida while Kawada, whose other victory in this race was with Gentildonna, claimed his 23rd G1 title.
Liberty Island was unhurried out of the gate and in hand, around seventh from the leader, along the rails. Yuga Kawada continued to keep the keen filly under control while measuring his timing to steer the filly slightly out for a clear run soon after the last turn. As soon as the filly was given the go signal, the Oka Sho champion unleashed her terrific turn of speed to catch the leader at the furlong pole and continued to pull away uncontested for an overwhelming six-length victory.
"Having run the Oka Sho and being transported here to Tokyo for another big race, the filly was quite tense coming into this race, so I had to make an effort to reserve her energy and calm her down before the race. She settled well once in the gate, allowing us to make a safe start, and we were able to race in good rhythm while I still had the task of keeping her under control up to the critical stages. I knew we were already in a position to finish clear of the other horses once taking the lead, but I wanted her to finish off the race strongly to the wire so I kept driving her to the wire which led to a big margin," commented Yuga Kawada.
Second pick Harper was positioned right behind the eventual winner under Christophe Lemaire throughout most of the trip and followed that foe to the outside, rounding the final turn. While unable to keep up with the Liberty Island's explosive burst of speed going up the uphill stretch, the Heart's Cry filly continued with good late speed to overtake Ravel in the last 50 meters while managing to hold back the fast-closing Dura by a neck margin for second.
Lightly regarded 15th choice Dura raced off the pace, around fifth from the rear, and came into the homestretch still well behind the leaders, where the Duramente filly exerted an impressive late speed once angling out just before the 400-meter pole and closed in well to finish just a neck short of second place.
4th: (1) Ravel—tracked leaders in 3rd, inherited lead 400m out, showed tenacity
after overtaken by winner, outrun just before wire
5th: (17) Shinryokuka—ran behind winner, circled wide to improve position while
unable to cause serious threat
6th: (7) Hip Hop Soul—saved ground around 10th, quickened between horses,
weakened in last 100m
7th: (9) Kona Coast—bumped at break, hugged rails around 13th, showed belated
8th: (10) So Dazzling—settled around 10th, turned wide, lacked needed kick
9th: (16) Doe Eyes—broke poorly, trailed in rear, circled wide, passed tired rivals
10th: (8) Remige—sat near winner around 6th, outrun in last 400m
11th: (6) Golden Hind—raced in 5th on rails, angled out, showed little
12th: (14) Perifania—traveled 3-wide around 10th, met traffic at early stretch, even
13th: (15) Emu—unhurried near rear, unable to reach contention
14th: (11) Mikki Gorgeous—was off a slow, positioned around 14th, no factor
15th: (3) Kita Wing—took economic trip around 15th, never fired
16th: (18) England Eyes—chased leaders around 4th, fell back after 400m pole
17th: (2) Light Quantum—set pace, maintained lead up to 400m pole, dropped back
18th: (4) Kiminonawa Maria—stalked pace in second, faded after final corner