Shadai Race Horse Co.’s homebred Soul Stirring has been well named. Last year’s Japanese champion two-year-old filly swept to a convincing victory in Sunday’s $1.878 million Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1), becoming the first classic winner sired by unbeaten world champion Frankel.
Soul Stirring is also out of a classic winner, with her dam being 2009 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) heroine and eventual U.S. champion turf mare Stacelita. Mother and daughter both scored their classic wins beneath Christophe Lemaire, who has said that Soul Stirring reminds him very much of Stacelita.
“She has the same build and the same air about her, long legs, a big stride, and is high-strung,” Lemaire said. “They’re very similar actually.”
Coming off her first career loss, a third on rain-affected ground in the April 9 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1), Soul Stirring was happier back on a firm course at Tokyo Sunday. The 7-5 favorite broke in good order from post 2 and secured a tracking spot, tucked just behind front-running Flawless Magic. As the field entered the far turn, Lemaire peeled off the fence, and Soul Stirring traveled sweetly awaiting her rider’s instructions.
With her stamina over the 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) unproven, Lemaire didn’t move prematurely. But Soul Stirring still cantered to the front on the bridle. Only when Mozu Katchan rallied to her inside did Lemaire have to get busy.
All it took was a few cracks of the whip, and Soul Stirring lengthened stride. Bounding away by 1 3/4 lengths, she clocked 2:24.1 – just 0.5 off the stakes record set by the world-class moneybags Gentildonna.
“It’s such a thrill for me as I also won the Oaks back home with her mother,” Lemaire said. “Soul Stirring certainly has inherited the power both from her sire and her dam.
“I was quite confident coming into this race. I wasn’t sure yet about the distance as it was her first time (at the trip) so I wanted her in a good position, which I did because she is quick out of the gate. She also has a good lasting speed so I was able to give her the go from early at the stretch and sustain our bid right up to the finish.”
Aside from Frankel’s breakthrough as a sire, and Lemaire’s classic double aboard mother and daughter, Soul Stirring rang up a milestone win for trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. She presented him with a 25th Grade 1 trophy, and a record 100th graded win. According to the Japan Racing Association, Fujisawa is the first trainer to reach that threshold since the introduction of graded races in 1984.
Mozu Katchan had 2 1/2 lengths to spare over the late-running duo of Admire Miyabi and Deirdre, in third and fourth, respectively. Pacesetter Flawless Magic reported home sixth.
Soul Stirring comprehensively avenged her Oka Sho loss. The top two from the first fillies’ classic, Reine Minoru and Lys Gracieux, were no match for her here. Lys Gracieux was fifth, while Reine Minoru ran the worst race of her life in 13th of 18. Unless anything comes to light afterward, Reine Minoru likely found the distance beyond her.
Now five-for-six, Soul Stirring started out with two straight victories over males, both at about nine furlongs, as a juvenile. The dark bay captured her debut at Sapporo in July, then followed up at Tokyo, defeating eventual Grade 3 winner and Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1) runner-up Persian Knight. Soul Stirring wrapped up a championship in her first start in her own division, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1), at the expense of Lys Gracieux and Reine Minoru. She extended her streak in her reappearance in the March 4 Tulip Sho (G3), held at the same metric mile around Hanshin, before her upset loss in the course-and-distance Oka Sho.
Soul Stirring is eligible to progress further, considering how well both Frankel and Stacelita performed as older horses. France’s highweight three-year-old filly in the 9.5 to 11-furlong range, Stacelita also captured the 2009 Prix Saint-Alary (G1) and Prix Vermeille (G1) (via the disqualification of Dar Re Mi). As a four-year-old, the daughter of Monsun annexed the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) and La Coupe (G3) (over males) and placed in the Nassau (G1) and Prix de l’Opera (G1). Stacelita was rejuvenated by a stateside switch in the summer of 2011. After a tough-trip third in the United Nations (G1), she joined Chad Brown and clinched an Eclipse Award with stylish wins in the Beverly D. (G1) and Flower Bowl (G1).
After her anticlimactic 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), Stacelita was purchased privately by Teruya Yoshida to join his Shadai operation as a broodmare. Her first foal, the Smart Strike filly Southern Stars, broke her maiden at Sandown last year for John Gosden. Stacelita visited Frankel in his first season in 2013, and since moving to Japan, has been virtually married to Deep Impact.