Fifteenth-year jockey Yusuke Fujioka guided sixth favorite Keiai Nautique on his end-of-the-stretch sprint for his first Grade One victory at the NHK Mile Cup on Sunday.
Keiai Nautique, a colt by Deep Impact, waited till the last 200 meters to slip out of the pack and beat second pick Gibeon by a neck, crossing the finish line at Tokyo Racecourse in 1 minute, 32.8 seconds. Red Veyron took third a further head behind in the 1,600-meter turf race for three-year-olds.
Keiai Nautique was slow out of the gate but mounted a late charge by moving outward to find running room. Down the home stretch, Fujioka challenged the frontrunners as they tired.
“I’m happy. We couldn’t maintain speed so I prepared myself for the worst,” said Fujioka, who was named to ride Keiai Nautique with Yutaka Take sitting out a suspension.
“The cross winds were strong but he pulled through. To be honest I wasn’t sure until the very end. I have to thank my horse. I think he still has a lot of room for growth. He lived up to his name as a G1 horse today,” he said.
The winner earned ¥150 million ($1.4 million) in prize money. The win was the second at the NHK Mile Cup for trainer Osamu Hirata following Curren Black Hill’s victory in 2012.
Top favorite Tower of London finished in a disappointing 12th out of 18.