More Sports / Horse Racing

Mikki Isle wins Mile Championship amid controversy

Kyodo

Mikki Isle went wire-to-wire for his second Grade 1 victory, holding off Isla Bonita to win the Mile Championship on Sunday.

The 5-year-old horse, ridden by Suguru Hamanaka and trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, went past the winning post in 1 minute, 33.1 seconds on firm going at Kyoto Racecourse.

The third choice, Mikki Isle won by a head over second favorite Isla Bonita, who, under Christophe Lemaire, closed in from the outside. Ryan Moore’s Neorealism, who stalked Mikki Isle throughout the trip, was third, another three-quarters of a length behind.

The race was not without controversy, however. Mikki Isle appeared to drift wide down the stretch, forcing Neorealism into the path of top pick Satono Aladdin and the Yutaka Take-ridden Decipher, both of whom were gaining fast.

Satono Aladdin wound up fifth, Decipher 10th.

After a stewards’ inquiry, the result stood, with Mikki Isle declared the winner. It was the first G1 victory for the son of Deep Impact since the 2014 NHK Mile Cup.

Hamanaka was apologetic afterward.

“I couldn’t keep him straight and caused trouble,” he said. “Mikki Isle had a pleasant trip. He felt great on the straight.”

Mikki Isle, out of Star Isle, is 8-for-19 for his career and took home a first-place prize of ¥103 million, raising his career earnings to more than ¥529 million.

It was Hamanaka first Mile Championship victory and Otonashi’s second.