Harp Star completed an eye-catching last-to-first rally in the Oka Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese One Thousand Guineas), a stylish victory that kicked off the classic season in Japan April 13 at Hanshin Racecourse.
Still last of 18 runners entering the straight, the filly closed with a powerful strides to the outside of 16 opponents before collaring Red Reveur 50 yards out and handing the champion filly her first defeat.
Harp Star won by neck while equaling the 2010 stakes record by Apapane of 1:33.30 for the 1,600-meter (about one-mile) race on firm turf.
Breaking from the widest post, Harp Star was settled in her customary position at the back of the field while Fukuno Dream sprinted into command and opened a long lead. Jockey Keita Tosaki positioned Red Reveur well off the pace, fourth to fifth from the rear, while third-place finisher Nuovo Record traveled a few lengths ahead.
Fukuno Dream loped along alone at the front and was leading by as many as 10 lengths on the turn with Harp Star still relaxing at the rear with 300 meters to run. The pacesetter still held command at the 200-meter mark, but soon ran out of steam as opponents rallied and swallowed her up.
Charging down the center of the track Red Reveur struck the front late with Nuovo Record in pursuit, but they could not hold back Harp Star's explosive outside rally.
"I'm relieved it all went well," winning rider Yuga Kawada said. "We sat in our usual position and were able to race in good rhythm. I was just careful in where to launch our bid. It's as if she knew that this was a big group I race because she gave it her best. I've experienced a lot with her since her 2-year-old races so I'm just glad we were able to win today."
Harp Star has a 4-1-0 record from five career starts. She won her first two outings last year before ending her juvenile campaign with a second to the season's divisional champion Red Reveur in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (Jpn-I) Dec. 8. In her 2014 debut in the Tulip Sho (Jpn-III) March 8 at Hanshin, Harp Star defeated Nuovo Record by 2 1/2 lengths.
Trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda for owner U Carrot Farm, Harp Star is the fourth Oka Sho winner sired by Shadai Stallion Station resident Deep Impact, joining the three most recent winners: Marcellina (2011), Gentildonna (2012), and Ayusan (2013).
The Oka Sho, along with the Yushun Himba (Jpn-I, Japanese Oaks) and the Shuka Sho (Jpn-I) comprise Japan's Triple Crown for fillies, which has been swept by four fillies including 2012's Gentildonna, who went on to capture back-to-back editions of the Japan Cup in 2012 and 2013, and won the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) March 29.
Bred in Japan by Northern Farm, Harp Star is out of the unraced Falbrav mare Historic Star, a half sister to Japanese champion Admire Don and 1999 Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby) winner Admire Vega.