Persian Knight rallied from far back in an 18-horse field to win the Mile Championship (G1) Nov. 19 at Kyoto Racecourse, catching Air Spinel in the final jump to win by a nose.
Sungrazer rallied with Persian Knight but settled for third, a half-length behind Air Spinel, who was partnered with jockey Ryan Moore.
Persian Knight, a 3-year-old colt by Harbinger, out of the Sunday Silence mare Orient Charm, ran 1,600 meters (about one mile) on good turf in 1:33.80 under jockey Mirco Demuro.
"We were a little worried about the farthest draw," Demuro said. "But he always breaks well, so we weren't that concerned. The colt was responding really well, especially around the third corner. Being still a 3-year-old, he seemed a bit nervous entering the lane but ran really well to the wire. He's a great horse."
Persian Knight, trained by Yasutoshi Ikee for owner G1 Racing, scored his fourth win from nine starts and first win at the top level. Before going back to the mile distance, he finished second and seventh in the first two legs of the Japanese Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (G1, Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (G1, Japanese Derby).
The result completed a back-to-back group 1 sire double for Harbinger and his third top-level win in just more than a month.
A week earlier, Mozu Katchan, a 3-year-old Harbinger filly out of the King Kamehameha mare Site Dealer, won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) at Kyoto. On Oct. 15, also at Kyoto, Deirdre (JPN) posted a mild upset victory in the Shuka Sho (G1, Japanese Oaks). She is by Harbinger, out of the Special Week mare Reizend.
Harbinger, who stands at the Shadai Stallion Station, raced in England in 2009 and 2010 for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and trainer Sir Michael Stoute. He capped his career with a victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Sponsored by Betfair (G1) at Ascot in 2010.
The Mile Championship, established in 1984 when the current grading system was put in place, has become an important fixture on the Japanese racing calendar. Last year's winner, Mikki Isle, earned the title of best Japanese sprinter or miler before being retired to stud. It also has been a significant producer of contenders for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1). The field for that race, set for Dec. 10 this season, will be finalized this week.