Verxina Leads All the Way in Victoria Mile
Verxina led gate to wire as she struck for a repeat win in the Victoria Mile (Jpn-I) May 18 at Tokyo Racecourse.
Jockey Hiroyuki Uchida settled the 5-year-old Deep Impact mare into a moderate tempo after breaking from post 14, and she had plenty of energy turning into the straight. Meisho Mambo, Japan's champion 3-year-old filly last season, raced in midfield early on and loomed menacingly in the final furlong but never got to the throat latch of Verxina, who won by a half-length.
Verxina covered the distance in 1:32.03 on firm turf, with Meisho Mambo holding for second. Straight Girl was a head back in third after tracking along the rail, several lengths behind Meisho Mambo in the opening stages.
Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi for owner Kazuhiro Sasaki, Verxina won last year's edition of the race by a nose from 2012 Victoria Mile winner Whale Capture but went winless in six subsequent starts. The lightly regarded 11th choice this year, she regained her winning stride in a masterful performance, becoming the first horse in the history of the race to win back-to-back editions.
"We didn't have to be in front if there was good pace," Uchida said, "but, I was fixed on getting the best out of her good speed and with the fast track at Tokyo, I thought we could give it a shot hoping she'd stay. I started hearing hooves from behind in the last furlong and drove her on praying that she'd last. We were able to defend our title and I guess this could make up for some of the disappointments that we've had."
Whale Capture tried to turn the tables on the winner but finished fourth after racing midpack early. She gradually made headway to finish a neck behind Straight Girl.
Favorite Smart Layer, a group II winner seeking a third consecutive win in as many starts this year, was caught in traffic in the midstretch and checked in eighth.
Verxina's record improved to 5-5-1 from 18 career starts. As a 3-year-old in 2012, she was runner-up in all three races of Japan's Triple Crown for fillies as Gentildonna swept the series. Verxina also was a close second in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (Jpn-I).
Verxina was bred in Japan by Northern Racing. She is out of the winning Machiavellian mare Halwa Sweet.
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