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Horse Racing

Liberty Island Becomes Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown Champion

With a one-length triumph in the 28th Shuka Sho, Liberty Island is the seventh winner of the fillies' Triple Crown and the first since Daring Tact in 2020.

Liberty Island has joined the pantheon of Japanese filly greats.

The Duramente-sired 3-year-old completed her quest to win the Japanese fillies' Triple Crown on Sunday, October 15 with a one-length triumph over Masked Diva in the 28th Shuka Sho at Kyoto Racecourse. 

Jockey Yuga Kawada earned his second Japan Racing Association Grade 1 win in as many races this month. On October 1, Kawada piloted Mama Cocha to victory in the 57th Sprinters Stakes.

Before Liberty Island completed the 2,000-meter Shuka Sho in 2 minutes, 1.1 seconds, six other horses were crowned fillies' Triple Crown champions: Mejiro Ramonu (1986), Still in Love (2003), Apapane (2010), Gentildonna (2012), Almond Eye (2018) and Daring Tact (2020).

On May 21, Liberty Island won the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), the second leg of the fillies' Triple Crown, by more than six lengths at Tokyo Racecourse.

Liberty Island posted a come-from-behind triumph in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), the opening race of the Triple Crown, on April 9 at Hanshin Racecourse.

Liberty Island
Liberty Island leads the 18-horse field in the 28th running of the Shuka Sho. (ⒸSANKEI)

Kawada guided Liberty Island to victory in all three Triple Crown races. And in all six of Liberty Island's career starts, Kawada has handled the reins. She has five wins to date, including in four consecutive G1 races. The lone exception: a runner-up finish in the G3 Artemis Stakes in October 2022.

Kawada Pleased with Liberty Island's Performance

As the race progressed (watch it on the JRA's YouTube channel), it appeared that Liberty Island, competing near the middle of the pack, would have a shot at finishing near the front. 

At the midway point, Kona Coast and Mississippi Tesora were first and second, respectively.

Sprinting on the outside, Liberty Island moved up from seventh place into title contention with 600 meters to go.

With 200 meters remaining, it was full speed ahead for Liberty Island, now with an inside position, galloping faster than everyone else on the Kyoto turf and holding a two-length lead.

Runner-up Masked Diva, steered by 23-year-old jockey Mirai Iwata, ran out of real estate to overtake Liberty Island. Harper (Christophe Lemaire) was third, 2½ lengths behind Masked Diva. Lemaire’s ride edged Dura (Arata Saito) by a nose. Moryana (Norihiro Yokoyama) secured a fifth-place finish.

Winning jockey Yuga Kawada (ⒸSANKEI)

"I'm grateful that we were able to achieve the Triple Crown," Kawada said after recording his 25th career JRA G1 win. "She is a horse with great ability, so I placed top priority on letting her run comfortably and finding a good path for her. 

"I was confident of her victory when we had an open space at the third corner. She has great potential, and her dreams for the future are wide open. But first of all, I would like to praise her for achieving the Triple Crown." 

Trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida earned his eighth G1 victory before an announced crowd of 45,601.

Liberty Island was the winner of the JRA's Best Two-Year-Old Filly honor in 2022.

Liberty Island
Another view of Liberty Island leading the pack en route to victory. (ⒸSANKEI)

Additional Race Details

Kona Coast, Katsumasa Sameshima's ride, who led throughout the race, faded over the final 100 meters and placed eighth in the 18-horse field.

Ryusei Sakai, who guided Stunning Rose to victory at the 2022 Shuka Sho, finished 11th aboard Ravel.

Three-time Shuka Sho winner Yutaka Take had a disappointing afternoon, placing 17th with Soleil Vita.

As the winner of the fillies' Triple Crown, Liberty Island secured a ¥100 million JPY (about $670,000 USD) bonus for her owners, Sunday Racing Co, Ltd.

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A Look Ahead

Two more G1 races are scheduled before the calendar flips to November 2023: the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) on October 22 at Kyoto Racecourse, followed by the Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 29 at Tokyo Racecourse.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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