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The Shadai filly’s classic heritage embodies the Japanese approach to sourcing and breeding from the best mares the world has to offer.
Christophe Lemaire believes Stars On Earth is in the right shape to make a bold bid for the Triple Tiara at Hanshin on Sunday as he looks to continue a personal Group 1 connection with the filly’s family.
Stars On Earth flashed home late to win the G1 Oka Sho (1000 Guineas) over a mile in April, then completed a classic double in the G1 Yushun Himba (Oaks) over 2400 metres at Tokyo in May, and she will attempt to become the seventh Triple Tiara heroine in the all-fillies G1 Shuka Sho over 2000 metres.
But the Duramente three-year-old has had to overcome an injury setback to make it to the third and final leg, and has not raced since she was found to have swelling in her off-fore after the Yushun Himba and subsequently had bone fragments removed.
Lemaire partnered Stars On Earth in work last week and was in the saddle again on Wednesday for her final fast gallop at Miho, in which she cruised up to her lead horse and quickened past with ease.
— Team Iwata (@JayRAye02) October 12, 2022
“This morning and last week she felt great, in my opinion,” Japan’s multiple champion jockey told Asian Racing Report. “Her footwork is very good and she seems to be in great condition, she looks really good and was very well before and after the gallops.
“What I can say is that I didn’t feel any problem when she was galloping: she changed her legs at the right time and very fluently, so if she is able to run this October it means the injury was not that much of a big deal. It’s always a pity to get injured but I didn’t feel any problem this morning or last week.”
Lemaire took the reins on the Mizuki Takayanagi-trained filly for the first time in the Yushun Himba and that victory gave him a remarkable Oaks treble. The Frenchman partnered Stars On Earth’s granddam, the brilliant mare Stacelita, to win the French Oaks in 2009 and in 2017 he rode Stacelita’s daughter Soul Stirring – Stars On Earth’s aunt – to victory in the Yushun Himba.
Christophe Lemaire wins the 2017 G1 Yushun Himba aboard Soul Stirring. (Photo by JRA)
The rider’s connection with those three generations of classic winners speaks to the international scope of Japan’s breeders and how classic bloodlines from Europe and the USA have mixed with Japanese bloodlines in recent decades to enhance the thoroughbred population.
Stacelita won six Group 1 races in France and North America in the colours of Martin Schwartz. She was sold to Teruya Yoshida after her final race and relocated to Japan.
“It’s quite unusual for a jockey to win Oaks races in different countries with the same bloodline,” said Lemaire. “So, when Soul Stirring won the Oaks, it was already a great achievement winning both Oaks in France and Japan with the mother and the daughter. Now this year I won with the ganddaughter, so it’s kind of a saga.
“I’ve ridden a couple of good fillies,” the great Almond Eye’s rider continued, with conscious understatement, “but Stacelita, she had this capacity to adapt herself to everything, she won on good ground, she won on soft ground, she won on a small track, like in America, she was a very good galloping filly. She was bred by Mr Dubois, who is a very good breeder and horseman, you just need to see her record to consider her as one of the best mares we had in the last 15 years.”
Christophe Lemaire celebrates with connections after winning the Prix de Diane aboard Stacelita at Chantilly in 2009. (Photo by Miguel Medina/Getty Images)
Her granddam’s versatility would be a good trait to have inherited as Stars On Earth drops down in trip to 2000 metres for the Shuka Sho, having been a strong-finishing force over 2400 metres in the Yushun Himba. That victory came at Tokyo, a bigger oval and more of a galloping track than Hanshin.
“I think she has got great ability over a mile and a half but she was still able to win the Shuka Sho over a mile,” Lemaire noted. “I think her potential made the difference, like Almond Eye did in her time, she won over a mile at three because she was better than the others, not because of her miler ability.
“I think Stars On Earth is a similar case: we saw that she won the Oka Sho by a little margin and she found her stride just in the last 100 metres, so, ok, this time it is 2000 metres on a small track at Hanshin, but she might be able to take a good position and react well coming into the straight. So, I’m not afraid about dropping back to 2000 metres.”
Should Stars On Earth succeed on Sunday she would become the sixth filly this century to complete the ‘Fillies’ Triple Crown’ and the fourth in ten years after Gentildonna (2012), Almond Eye (2018) and Daring Tact (2020).
Keiba Diary: It’s Shuka Sho week and there’s a Triple Tiara on the table
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