By Masakazu Takahashi
Hopes of having a Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown winner were kept alive at
Mitsumasa Nakauchida’s Liberty Island after she announced herself as the next big thing among the girls with a stunning six-length romp in the Grade 1 Yushun Himba (Oaks) at Tokyo on Sunday.
The Duramente filly had won the 1600m Gr.1 Oka Sho at Hanshin on 9 April by three fourths of a length, doubling up over track and trip after her success in the Gr.1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies on 11 December. And she showed solid progress when going far longer in the Yushun Himba over 2400m.
With Yuga Kawada in the hot seat, Liberty Island bid her time in the first half of the field of 18 and coasted to the front to join Harper in the straight before kicking clear when asked by her rider 200m out. Stretching fully she finished six clear of Harper, with Dura a neck back in third.
Trainer Nakauchida is now looking forward to her running in the Shuka Sho, the last leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown, at Kyoto.
He said: “I'm relieved because I could meet everyone's expectations for training such a wonderful horse. In the Oka Sho she couldn't go to the front from the off so I asked the jockey to take a position closer to the front this time.
“The aim is the Fillies' Triple Crown assuming she comes out of the race okay.”
Kawada added: “Her mind was good and she raced with good balance and good rhythm all the way.
“I thought she would win if she got a clear run, but I wanted to test her performance in this mile and a half contest looking ahead to other top-class races. She's a horse who has the potential to be a big player not only in the autumn but also for next year.”