Stelvio downs defending champ Persian Knight in Mile Championship

Stelvio wins the 2018 G1 Mile Championship under William Buick.

Fifth pick Stelvio captured his first G1 victory in this year’s Mile Championship to reign as another three-year-old mile champion following last year’s Persian Knight.

Scoring two consecutive wins in his first two starts as a two-year-old, he was runner-up in the following Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3) and the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1) then marked his first graded victory in his kickoff start this year, the Spring Stakes (G2).

While finishing fourth and eighth, respectively, in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1), he came off a runner-up effort in the Mainichi Okan.

He has marked 4-3-0 out of seven starts between 1,600 and1,800 meter distances including this race.

This win marked trainer Tetsuya Kimura’s first G1 and eighth graded win since establishing his stable in 2011. This was also the first JRA-G1 win for jockey William Buick, who is riding in Japan from yesterday under a short-term license for the first time in four years. This is his fifth graded victory in Japan.

Fifth pick Stelvio broke smoothly from the innermost stall, settled toward the front and waited along the rails while his rivals traveled wide to make bid turning the corners. Entering the lane around fourth from the front, the son of Lord Kanaloa unleashed a powerful kick, overtook Al Ain 100 meters out and pulled away strongly while holding off the strong challenge by the defending champion.

“It’s my first G1 win in Japan and this race is obviously one of the world’s biggest mile races so it’s very special for me. The horse was in great condition and when I saw he was drawn one, I thought that if he can make use of the draw and get a good position, he has a chance, which the horse managed to do. He had a good finishing kick. He won like a class horse and hopefully this is the beginning of this horse’s G1 career,” commented jockey William Buick.

Third pick Persian Knight stalked Stelvio by the rails and challenged the three-year-old bay with an impressive late charge before the wire but was a head short of defending his title.

Fourth choice Al Ain rushed out to travel second or third behind frontrunner Aerolithe, took the front around the 200-meter marker, was overtaken by Stelvio then by Persian Knight in the last 100 meters but held on well to cross the wire in third.

Race favorite Mozu Ascot eased back after a good break to travel fifth or sixth from the rear, steered toward the inside after entering the stretch but was unable to find a clear path and finished 13th.