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Fierement wins Kikka-sho by nose

Kyodo

Fierement beat second-favorite Etario in a photo finish Sunday at the Kikka-sho, the final leg of the Japanese triple crown.

Fierement, the seventh favorite, held steady in the middle of the pack of three-year-old colts throughout the 3,000 meter turf race until cruising ahead along with Etario after the final turn.

With French jockey Christophe Lemaire aboard, Fierement crossed the line at Kyoto Racecourse in 3 minutes, 6.1 seconds, a nose ahead of Etario.

Fierement, sired by seven-time G1 champion Deep Impact, earned his first Grade 1 victory and picked up 120 million yen (about $1.06 million) in prize money. The colt improved to three wins with one second-place finish since winning his debut in January.

Lemaire, who rode Satono Diamond to a Kikka-sho title in 2016, ended Mirco Demuro’s bid for a second straight victory. The Italian jockey steered Kiseki to a win in Kyoto last year.

You Can Smile finished third at one-and-a-half lengths behind the leaders, while race-favorite Blast Onepiece finished fourth.

Epoca d’Oro, who won this year’s Satsuki-sho, the triple crown’s first leg, finished eighth.