KY-Bred Eishin Apollon Wins Mile Championship

Half-brother to Master of Hounds prevails by a neck in tight stretch duel at Kyoto.

Eishin Apollon, relishing a moist turf left by heavy rain the day before, registered his first grade I victory with an upset in the $2.5 million Mile Championship at Kyoto Racecourse in Japan Nov. 20.

A half-brother to English group I-placed 3-year-old Master of Hounds, Eishin Apollon was bred in Kentucky by Silk and Scarlet Syndicate, named for the chestnut colt's dam who is by Sadler's Wells. The winner, who is 4, was sired by Giant's Causeway .

Sent off as the fifth choice at odds of nearly 10-1, Eishin Apollon prevailed in a tense stretch duel by neck over Fifth Petal. France-based mare Sahpresa finished 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third, a neck ahead of Danon Yoyo. Three-year-old colt Real Impact, the slight favorite in the 18-horse field off his victory over top milers in the Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I) this spring, finished fifth. The final time was 1:33.9 over a course rated good.

Kenichi Ikezoe, who collected his fifth grade I win of the season, rode Eishin Apollon to victory for trainer Masahiro Matsunaga and owner Toyomitsu Hirai. Matsunaga registered his first grade I victory with Eishin Apollon, who won the Fuji Stakes (Jpn-III) in his most recent start.

Eishin Apollon broke smoothly to secure an inside spot behind the leaders Silport and Live Concert for most of the trip. He closed in on Fifth Petal, who raced close to the pace and took the lead past the furlong marker, at the middle of the course and outfought his rival in the final strides.

In her third try in the Mile Championship, French raider, Sahpresa ran on strongly on the outside to finish third. She was also third in in 2009 and fourth last year. A second French runner, Immortal Verse, saved ground in mid-pack up to the last turn but was unable to sustain her charge in the last 100 meters and finished seventh.