Persian Knight reigns as champion miler in this year’s Mile Championship

Fourth pick Persian Knight claimed this year’s Mile Championship at Kyoto on Sunday to land his first G1 and second graded victory.

Scoring two wins out of three starts in his debut season as a two-year-old, he kicked off this season with a third in his first grade-race challenge in the Shinzan Kinen (G3) then registered his first graded win in the following G3 Arlington Cup.

The son of Harbinger was second and seventh in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1), respectively, then switched to mile  races from autumn where he was fifth in his latest start in the G3 Fuji Stakes.

This win marked trainer Yasutoshi Ikee’s 19th JRA-G1 win following the Yasuda Kinen with Satono Aladdin. Jockey Mirco Demuro claimed his 24th JRA-G1 title following the Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Mozu Katchan just last week while marking a tie record of six G1 annual wins with Yutaka Take (2005, 2006), Katsumi Ando (2007), Kenichi Ikezoe (2011) and Yasunari Iwata (2012).

Fourth pick Persian Knight broke sharply from the outermost stall and settled third from the rear while Maltese Apogee immediately rushed to the front to set the pace. As the field crowded in entering the lane, the dark bay colt threaded between horses and found space behind Air Spinel who had pulled away from the pack, chased the chestnut with a powerful late charge while dueling with Sungrazer and nailed the leader just before the wire for a photo-finish win.

“We were a little worried about the farthest draw but he always breaks well so we weren’t that concerned. The colt was responding really well especially around the third corner. Being still a three-year-old, he seemed a bit nervous entering the lane but ran really well to the wire. He’s a great horse,” commented Mirco Demuro.

Second pick Air Spinel was rated around eighth from the front in midfield, surged out entering the lane to take command 200 meters out and further accelerated but was unable to fend off the strong challenge by Persian Knight before the wire to succumb to second.

Seventh choice Sungrazer traveled around tenth from the front in mid-division, inside odds-on-favorite Isla Bonita. Meeting traffic entering the lane, the son of Deep Impact angled out and dueled strongly with Persian Knight in the last 100 meters but weakened in the last strides to finish half a length behind the runner-up in third.

Race favorite Isla Bonita traveled around eighth from the front, was checked at the top of the stretch but diligently chased the leaders behind Sungrazer to finish fifth.

THE 34TH MILE CHAMPIONSHIP (G1) – Japan Autumn International -
3-year-old & up, 1,600 meters (about 8 furlongs), right-handed, turf
Sunday, November 19, 2017 Kyoto Racecourse 11th Race Post time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 222,080,000 (about US$ 1,931,130 <US$1=¥115>)

1. Persian Knight (JPN), dark bay or brown, colt, 3-year-old
Harbinger / Orient Charm (Sunday Silence)
Owner: G1 Racing Co., Ltd. Breeder: Oiwake Farm
Trainer: Yasutoshi Ikee Jockey: Mirco Demuro
9 Starts, 4 Wins
Added money: ¥ 106,906,000 Career earnings: ¥ 230,506,000
Principal race performances: ’17 Arlington Cup (G3, 1,600m) 1st
’17 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) 2nd

2. Air Spinel (JPN), chestnut, colt, 4-year-old
King Kamehameha / Air Messiah (Sunday Silence)
Owner: Lucky Field Co., Ltd. Breeder: Tsunebumi Yoshihara
Trainer: Kazuhide Sasada Jockey: Ryan Moore

3. Sungrazer (JPN), brown, colt, 3-year-old
Deep Impact / Mantis Hunt (Deputy Minister)
Owner: G1 Racing Co., Ltd. Breeder: Oiwake Farm
Trainer: Hidekazu Asami Jockey: Yuichi Fukunaga

Other Horses:
4th: (9) Reine Minoru―broke sharply, sat in 5th, rallied with eventual runner-up for lead, overtaken 50m out
6th: (1) Black Moon―off slow, trailed far rear, angled out at last turn, last entering lane, fastest late charge
7th: (10) Kluger―mild break, ran wide in latter half of mid-pack, good turn of foot but too much ground to cover
8th: (7) Red Falx―on rails in mid-division, struggled for room in straight, ran out of steam last half furlong
9th: (13) Grand Silk―took wide trip 4th from rear, 2nd to last at top stretch, accelerated well but too late
10th: (15) Moon Crest―quick out of gate, ran 3-wide in fourth, 2nd to enter stretch, weakened last 1/2 furlong
11th: (14) Garibaldi―hugged rails 5th from rear beside eventual winner, showed effort, weak response in stretch
12th: (5) Satono Aladdin―traveled 2nd from rear, rounded final turn wide, advanced without reaching contention
13th: (6) Danon Major―good speed after break, pressed pace in 2nd, ran out of steam in final furlong
14th: (3) Young Man Power―tracked pace in 3rd on rails, remained a factor up to furlong pole, dropped out
15th: (8) Maltese Apogee―sprinted clear, set pace, caught before furlong pole, used up
16th: (2) America’s Cup―ran on the rails in mid-pack, failed to respond in straight
17th: (16) Win Gagnant―broke well, sat wide in mid-division, came up empty
18th: (17) Jo Strictly―ran wide and in mid-pack beside eventual runner-up, nothing left in stretch
Fractional time (sec./furlong): 12.2 - 10.8 - 11.6 - 12.1 - 11.9 - 11.5 - 11.6 - 12.1
Last 4 furlongs: 47.1 Last 3 furlongs: 35.2

Link - video of the Mile Championship