Kiseki (JPN) overcame a downpour from an approaching typhoon, soft turf, and 17 rivals to land his first top-level win in the Kikuka Sho (G1, Japanese St. Leger) Oct. 22 at Kyoto Racecourse.
Kiseki, a Rulership colt out of the Deep Impact (JPN) mare Blitz Finale (JPN), broke slowly and settled near the rear of the field through the first circuit of the 3,000-meter (about 1 7/8 miles) race. Moving down the backstretch for the second time, jockey Mirco Demuro started to rally Kiseki forward.
With the inside chopped up and muddied, the field swung to the middle of the course around the final turn and Kiseki was forced widest of all. But with rivals to the inside laboring, he quickly accelerated through the final 200 meters and won by two lengths. The final time was 3:18.90.
Clincher (JPN) was second, a nose in front of Popocatepetl (JPN).
The race was the third leg of the Japanese Triple Crown. Al Ain (JPN), winner of the Satsuki Sho (G1) or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, finished seventh. The winner of the Tokyo Yushun (G1) or Japanese Derby, Rey de Oro (JPN), bypassed the Kikuka Sho in favor of the Japan Cup (G1) Nov. 26 against older horses and, likely, some foreign runners.
Kiseki, trained by Katsuhiko Sumii for owner Tatsue Ishikawa, was making his first start at the top level of Japanese racing and his first at 3,000 meters. In his previous outing, he finished second behind Rey de Oro in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2) at Hanshin, going 2,400 meters.
Demuro admitted the course conditions were "tough" for Kiseki and that 3,000 meters "was not his favorite. Though the pace was slow, I was able to race him well, traveling behind Mikki Swallow. I was sure we were going to win when we entered the straight and he displayed a great turn of speed at the end."