05/21/2017 3:40PM

Soul Stirring makes Japanese Oaks first win of 2017

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Soul Stirring, the 2016 champion 2-year-old filly in Japan, won that nation’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies Sunday – the Grade 1 Japanese Oaks at Tokyo Racecourse.

Sent off favored, Soul Stirring (7-5) was always near the front and took the lead in early stretch, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over 14-1 Mozu Katchan. Admire Miyabi, the 7-2 second choice, finished third in the field of 18.

Soul Stirring won the Grade 1 Juvenile Fillies in Japan last December to secure her championship. The Japanese Oaks was the graded stakes debut for Mozu Katchan. Admire Miyabi was a Grade 3 winner earlier this year.

Soul Stirring was ridden by Christophe Lemaire, who rode the filly’s dam – Stacelita – to victory in the Group 1 French Oaks at Chantilly.

Soul Stirring is by Frankel and races for owner Shadai Race Horse Company and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa.

“I wasn’t sure about the distance, so I wanted her in a good position, which I did because she is quick out of the gate,” Lemaire told Japan Racing Association publicity.

“She also has a good lasting speed, so I was able to give her the go from early in the stretch and sustain our bid right up to the finish.”

The $2.03 million Japanese Oaks at 1 1/2 miles on turf was Soul Stirring’s first win of 2017. She was third in the Grade 1 Japanese 1000 Guineas at Hanshin Racecourse on April 9 in her first start of the year. Reine Minoru, the 40-1 upset winner of the 1000 Guineas, finished 13th in the Oaks.

Stacelita won six Grade 1 or Group 1 races in France and the United States, including the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park and the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park in 2011.