Many chances in Japan's Mile Championship

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November 17th, 2017

High-quality 4-year-old Air Spinel may be set to break through for his first grade one victory in the Mile Championship at Kyoto Nov. 19.

Air Spinel (King Kamehameha) wasn’t far away in the Japanese classics last year, and this year has done well campaigned at a mile. He flew home for fifth in Japan’s other one-mile grade one for older horses, the Yasuda Kinen, and he showed his fitness for the race with a good victory in the Fuji Stakes (G3) at Tokyo Oct. 21.

Air Spinel will also have the benefit of the services of leading European rider Ryan Moore.

Second behind Air Spinel in the Fuji Stakes was Isla Bonita (Fuji Kiseki), who filled the same position behind Mikki Isle in this race last year. He’s a consistent miler and though he was eighth in the Yasuda Kinen earlier this year he didn’t get much racing room.

One of the most interesting runners is Red Falx (Swept Overboard). He’s been one of the best sprinters in Japan this year, winning the seven-furlong Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2) and the Sprinters Stakes (G1). But in between times he was a very good third in the Yasuda Kinen. He’s trying to become the first horse to win the Sprinters Stakes and Mile Championship in the same year since 2003.

Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact) is looking to complete the mile double, having arrived very late to win the Yasuda Kinen. However, Kyoto is not necessarily as good a course for back-runners as Tokyo. He was last of 18 in the 1 ¼-mile Tenno Sho (Autumn) Oct. 29, but that was on unsuitable soft ground and he should still be considered if the track comes up firm.

The 3-year-olds are headed by Sungrazer (Deep Impact), who is looking for his fifth consecutive win. He hasn’t raced in grade one company but did win the Swan Stakes (G2) at his last start.

Another high-quality 3-year-old, Persian Knight (Harbinger), could well improve on his fifth-place finish in the Fuji Stakes, while Reine Minoru (Daiwa Major) returns to a mile for the first time since winning the Japanese equivalent of the 1,000 Guineas, the one-mile Oka Sho (G1).

Fuji Stakes third-place finisher Kluger (King Kamehameha) and the front-running Maltese Apogee (Goshawk Ken) are others in the 18-horse field to consider for multiples.