History Awaits Liberty Island In Shuka Sho

Liberty Island | Horsephotos


The last time the G1 Shuka Sho was staged at Kyoto Racecourse in 2020, Daring Tact (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) validated a quote of 1.4 (2-5) favouritism to become the fifth winner of the Japanese Fillies Triple Tiara in the modern era. Closed for two years for reconstruction, racing returned to Kyoto this spring and Sunday afternoon, the fans will pack the grandstand to watch Sunday Racing's Liberty Island (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) try to add her name to the list at what will be a similarly skinny price, if not shorter.

The daughter of two time Australian champion and dual Group 1 winner Yankee Rose (Aus) (All American {Aus}) is sparingly raced to date, having made just five trips to the post and having tasted defeat on only one occasion, a desperately unlucky runner-up effort to the re-opposing Ravel (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) when badly held up for a run in the G3 Artemis S. last October. Liberty Island locked up champion 2-year-old filly honours in the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December and returned to action in the Apr. 9 G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), coming from a seemingly unlikely position to defeat Kona Coast (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) (video, SC 3). The G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) was a much more straight-forward task, as Liberty Island turned on the afterburners in the final 200 metres to score by a half-dozen lengths from Harper (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) and Dura (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) (see below, SC 5).



Liberty Island reportedly won the Oaks at 468kg, but was a reported 520kg when she returned to training in September. She recently tipped the scales at 490kg, but jockey Yuga Kawada remains bullish on his ride.

“I'd heard so many reports about how big she'd gotten, so I'd been thinking she was going to be too big, but she wasn't,” the leading rider commented this week. “In a good way, I found it hard to even feel the difference. She didn't feel heavy either when she started working, but since it was a week out, I did think she would improve from then.

“Since she's so talented, it's always hard to find a training partner,” he added. “This week, so call it a partner or a pacemaker, we put another horse in front and worked this one, being careful to keep her in good balance. I did feel improvement from last week.”

Dura was better than 100-1 when rallying from far back in the Oaks and went on to frank the form of the race with a one-length success when favoured in the G3 Queen S. (1800m) at Sapporo July 30.

“She had a prep that should tie in nicely with the Kyoto 2,000 meters, and physically she's much more powerful than she was in the spring,” said assistant trainer Atsushi Nishioka. “I hadn't been confident she'd do well in either the Oaks or the Queen S., but this time I'm looking forward to her performance. On top of that, I'm looking forward to seeing how close she can get to Liberty Island.”

Shadai's Masked Diva (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) is one of the more progressive types in the field, with three wins from her four starts, including a convincing 1 1/2-length success in the G2 Rose S. in her group-stakes debut last month. As of this writing, the dark bay is the second choice in the markets at better than 17-1, such is the expected dominance of Liberty Island.

Moryana (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) was well-beaten in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and was absent from the first two legs of this series, but gained a berth in the Shuka Sho with a half-length defeat of Oaks sixth Hip Hop Soul (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in the G2 Shion S. over Sunday's trip Sept. 9.



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