(from Japanese Racing Association reports)
Hong Kong-trained Bullish Luck demolished a top field of Asian milers in the 56th running of the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse Sunday, and in the process earn a US$1 million bonus for the first time in the history of the recently established Asian Mile Challenge series.
Racing in mid-pack in the 1,600-meter event, Australian jockey Brett Prebble edged Bullish Luck to the outside at the top of the straight and the 7-year-old
gelding rumbled past his rivals to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
"The race turned out to be a soft run and Bullish Luck came to the front a little too soon as there was only about six lengths from the leader coming into the straight," Prebble said. "With nothing to chase, he tends to stop there, but he has an explosive turn of foot and he would have finished even stronger if there was someone in front."
Tony Cruz trains Bullish Luck for owner Wing Keung Wong, who was all smiles as he was presented the bonus check for winning the Asian Mile Challenge.
"I came with much confidence," the owner said, "but the fact that the weather held was probably one of the key factors as the horse is best on a very fast going."
Bullish Luck finished a troubled fourth in the Yasuda Kinen last year.
"As I have been saying ever since coming here, Bullish Luck came to Japan a better horse than last year, fit and ready," Cruz said. "I sincerely thank the (Japanese Racing Association) for giving us a second chance to prove that he is the best horse. He is definitely first in line for this season's Horse of the Year with an international grade I title to his name."
Asakusa Den'en who came with a late run through the middle of the field for jockey Shinji Fujita, got up for second by a nose over Joyful Winner, another Hong Kong entry ridden by Australian champion Darren Beadman. Both rallied to overtake Daiwa Major, who had seized the lead in the straight.
The race featured nine group or grade I winners, including Meisho Bowler, the former top Japanese 2-year-old who set the pace, and Dance in the Moon, who lacked racing room in the late stages. Race favorite Orewa Matteruze was first out of the gate but after dropping behind from the front group in the early stages, failed to threaten.
Bullish Luck, out of the Alysheba mare Wild Vintage, won for the 11th time in 43 starts.