Connect with us


Liberty Island Lands Second Jewel with Overwhelming Victory in the Yushun Himba

The Duramente-sired filly, ridden by Yuga Kawada, became the first Yushun Himba champion by at least a six-lengths margin since 1975.



Yushun Himba
Liberty Island wins the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) on May 21 at Tokyo Racecourse. (ⒸSANKEI)

Oka Sho winner and heavy favorite Liberty Island validated her Best Two-Year-Old Filly title of 2022 and her recent G1 victory in April by staging another dominant performance in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) on Sunday, May 21. 

At Tokyo Racecourse, the Duramente-sired 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. In recent years, 2012's fillies' Triple champion, Gentildonna, was the closest at five-lengths margin.

The last G1 victory for both trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida and jockey Yuga Kawada was with the same filly in the Oka Sho on April 9. It was the seventh Japan Racing Association Grade One victory overall for Nakauchida. Kawada, whose other victory in this race was with Gentildonna, claimed his 23rd G1 title. 

Yushun Himba
Liberty Island showcases her speed in the Yushun Himba. (KYODO)

Yushun Himba
Liberty Island (right) runs away from her Yushun Himba foes over the final 200 meters. (KYODO)

Liberty Island was unhurried out of the gate and in hand, around seventh from the leader, along the rails. Kawada continued to keep the keen filly under control while measuring his timing to steer Liberty Island 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. 

Yushun Himba
Yuga Kawada waves to fans after the race. (KYODO)

Kawada Reflects on Yushun Himba Triumph

"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," Kawada said after 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."

Kawada added: "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."


Harper Holds Off Dura for Runner-Up Spot 

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.


Read the complete race report, including details about each of the Yushun Himba's participants, at JRA News.

Follow horse racing coverage throughout the year on SportsLook.

Author: JRA News