TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo – Overwhelming favorite Gran Alegria claimed this year’s Mile Championship, her third consecutive G1 triumph following the Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) and the Sprinters Stakes (1,200m). The Mile Championship victory by a female runner was last seen 12 years ago in 2008 by Blumenblatt and only the sixth overall.
The 2019 Best Three-Year-Old Filly and Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) winner now has four G1 titles to her name while becoming the eighth horse in JRA history, the first after Indy Champ last year, to claim both mile G1 titles in the same year. Furthermore, she is also the third horse to claim the Sprinters Stakes-Mile Championship double—Durandal was the last horse to accomplish the feat in 2003.
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa picked up his 32nd JRA-G1 title with the win while renewing his own record of four titles in the Mile Championship—his previous victories were with Shinko Lovely (1993), Taiki Shuttle (1997,98) and Zenno El Cid (2001)—to five.
Jockey Christophe Lemaire won three G1s in a row after the Tenno Sho (Autumn) with Almond Eye and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Lucky Lilac to reach 34 career G1 wins.
Gran Alegria broke sharply and positioned behind the leaders and just off the rails around fifth position behind a slower than moderate pace set by Resistencia. Moving with the flow towards the front as the field closed in approaching the final turn, Christophe Lemaire was boxed inside an unable to angle out for a clear path coming into the homestretch. Still caught behind the dueling Admire Mars and Indy Champ in front with a furlong to go, Gran Alegria shifted further outside and showed a tremendous turn of foot with a little more than 100 meters to the wire and stormed past both rivals to win by 3/4 lengths.
“She had a good break so we were able to sit in a good position. She’s matured and a lot easier to ride now being a four-year-old so she was relaxed and we had a good trip until the last turn where, as a favorite you’re marked and it so happens, but we weren’t able to make our move to the outside smoothly for the stretch run. I was a little worried but the way she exploded into gear in the last 150 meters, it just shows how powerful she is and I’m looking forward to a great season from her as a five-year-old,” commented Christophe Lemaire.
Indy Champ was in hand immediately after the break and settled around seventh with the eventual winner in view, advanced and raced in tandem with the eventual winner approaching the final corner and increased his pace to reach Admire Mars and overtaking that foe at the furlong pole but soon joined by and quickly overtaken by the winner before the wire.
Admire Mars broke sharply from stall seven and positioned outside and half a length in front of the eventual winner. The Hong Kong Mile champion made headway after the 800-meter pole, secured a clear runway entering the stretch and assumed command 200 meters out while Indy Champ caught up with him on the outside and Scarlet Color looming to contention along the rails. The Daiwa Major colt continued to rally strongly to the wire to finish a close third.
Other Horses: 4th: (11) Scarlet Color—hugged rails around 8th, ran gamely but weakened in last 100m 5th: (17) Salios—sat around 13th, angled out, showed fastest late kick, belatedly 6th: (16) Vin de Garde—raced around 11th, showed effort but had too much to make up 7th: (15) Persian Knight—traveled near rear, struggled to find clear path, accelerated in last 300m 8th: (2) Resistencia—set pace, surrendered lead 200m out, outrun thereafter 9th: (1) Besten Dank—tracked leaders in 3rd in front of winner, ran willingly until 100m out 10th: (14) Sound Chiara—settled 3-wide around 11th, lacked needed kick 11th: (5) Meikei Die Hard—ran around 8th behind winner, failed to respond 12th: (12) A Will a Way—saved ground around 13th, even paced at stretch 13th: (3) Keiai Nautique—trailed in rear, circled wide, unable to reach contention 14th: (13) Taisei Vision—sat 3-wide around 8th, never fired at stretch 15th: (6) Lauda Sion—stalked leader in 2nd, ran out of steam in last 300m 16th: (10) Black Moon—raced near rear, no factor 17th: (9) Katsuji—traveled around 5th outside winner, faded after early stretch.
Mile Championship Replay
Photo: Gran Alegria (KYODO/Hanshin Racecourse)