Caerleon Colt Wins Japan Mile Championship

Published in the Nov. 24 issue of The Blood-Horse
Foreign-breds ran away with the top three places of the Mile Championship (Jpn-I) Nov. 18 at Kyoto Racecourse, with Irish-bred Zenno El Cid (Caerleon--Embla, by Dominion) cruising to a three-quarter-length win.

American-born Eishin Preston (Green Dancer--Warranty Applied, by Monteverdi) followed the 4-year-old over the line, with Taiki Treasure (Miswaki-Royal Bride, by Blushing Groom), also bred in the U.S., capping the record sweep with a third-place finish another three-quarters of a length later. Five foreign-born runners were included in the Mile Championship's full gate of 18 entrants.

Olivier Peslier further added to the international flavor as the winning jockey, his third group I victory in Japan.

After a smart break from the No. 14 post, Peslier slipped Zenno El Cid expertly toward the rail, where he fell into a relaxed rhythm behind pacesetter Kris the Brave, who led the mixed field at a pace unusually slow for a top-level mile. The first 1,000 meters of firm turf was covered in :58.8, a pace later cited by many as being their undoing.

Race favorite Daitaku Riva, runner-up in last year's Mile Championship, broke poorly from the No. 13 post and remained far to the rear until the final turn, where he was forced wide.
Zenno El Cid, on the other hand, managed to hold steady to his choice second position. Executing the turn for home smartly, he gained the lead at the top of the stretch and held off a threat from second-choice U.S.-bred Eishin Preston, whose strong kick had rocketed him from ninth position to just shy of the leader. The wide draw, coupled with a poor start, reverberated to the end for Daitaku Riva, who disappointed with a ninth-place finish.

Zenno El Cid gave Japan's leading trainer, Kazuo Fujisawa, his fourth win of the Mile Championship, his first group I win in 2 1/2 years. Despite the recent drought of top-level victories, the 50-year-old Fujisawa was notching his 60th win this year, a feat not matched by a Japan Racing Association trainer in 30 years.

The win of the Mile Championship was worth ¥97.9 million (about $797,000) and brought Zenno El Cid's earnings from six wins in 13 outings to over ¥203 million for owner Shinobu Osako. Winning time in the Mile Championship was 1:33.2.

Peslier will be paired with this year's Japan Derby (Jpn-I) winner Jungle Pocket in the 21st running of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) on Nov. 25. By Barbara Bayer