Excellent third for Soft Fruit in G1 Shuka Sho
Soft Fruit produced a superb display on her first G1 appearance with a never-nearer third in the Shuka Sho at Kyoto, Japan, on Sunday, 18 October.
The Deep Impact homebred was taking on the pick of this season’s Japanese three-year-old fillies in the 10-furlong highlight, as well as making her Graded-race debut for Kunihide Matsuda following an impressive Stakes win at Chukyo in September.
After missing the break, Soft Fruit raced in a clear last of the 18-strong field for much of the final leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown. She started to take closer order under Kota Fujioka turning for home and was switched widest of all at the top of the straight.
The Godolphin filly quickened well to go a close fifth a furlong from home and galloped out powerfully, getting up for third on the line and finishing two lengths behind Daring Tact, who became the first undefeated horse to complete a clean sweep of the fillies’ Classics.
Harry Sweeney, President of Godolphin in Japan, said: “We were absolutely thrilled with Soft Fruit’s run today – she did brilliantly to finish third in a G1 on what was her first career run in a Group race of any category. It was especially so as she had no luck in running. She was on her hind legs when the gates opened and had to be content to trail the other 17 runners early on. And furthermore, she was brought almost 10 wide at the last corner and without question travelled the longest distance of any of the 18 fillies. She accelerated really bravely in the straight to grab third and, not surprisingly, her time for the last three furlongs of the race was the fastest of all runners.
“Some commentators were critical of the jockey immediately after the race but having viewed the patrol video I am not particularly so. However, it is absolutely correct to say that she had little luck in running and is a very exciting prospect for the future.
“Her trainer was really pleased with the run. He commented that Soft Fruit had really strengthened up following her summer break in our Castle Park pre-training facility in Hokkaido. He is of the opinion that the filly will be even better at distances up to 12 furlongs.
“She had a tough race today and she will be monitored for the next week before we firm up on future plans. Ideally, we would like to run her in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Cup in four weeks’ time if she is ready, but there is a danger that she will not get into the race due to lack of racetrack earnings. In any case, she is a very exciting prospect for next year. Her trainer, who has just turned 70, will under JRA rules be forced to retire by the end of February next year. We will therefore have to then look for a new trainer for this filly but we are confident that many of Japan’s top trainers will be delighted to have her in their barns.”