Laurel Guerreiro upset favored Sleepless Night, last year's Japanese Racing Association champion sprinter, while posting his first grade I win in the US$2.25 million Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo racecourse over 1,200 meters on turf March 29.
Sleepless Night, angled out for the drive as the field turned for home, appeared to be headed for victory. But Laurel Guerreiro, who had taken the lead on the turn after dueling with the pacesetting Joyful Heart, fought back along the inside for jockey Shinji Fujita and scored by a half-length over his female rival.
The final time was 1:08 for the about six-furlong distance on firm going. Soldier's Song nosed Tosho Courage for third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Sleepless Night.
Trained by Mitsugu Kon for owner Laurel Racing Co., Laurel Guerreiro halted a five-race winning streak for Sleepless Night, a 5-year-old mare who was making her 2009 seasonal debut with regular rider Hiroyuki Uemura aboard.
Laurel Guerreiro, who ran fourth in last year's Takamatsunomiya Kinen, was sent off as the third choice in the 18-horse field by the crowd of 39,000. A two-time grade III winner previously, the 5-year-old King Halo horse was victorious for the fourth time overall in 23 lifetime starts with seven seconds.
Fine Grain, winner of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen last year, finished 17th. The Australian-bred Kinshasa no Kiseki, second last year, could only manage only 10th this time.
Laurel Guerreiro journeyed to Hong Kong last December for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) and finished eighth. The dark bay, out of Big Tenby, by Tenby, was bred in Japan by Murata Bokujo.