KYOTO - Fifth-favorite Stelvio earned his first Grade 1 victory on Sunday at Kyoto Racecourse after capturing the Mile Championship, the second race in the Japan Autumn International series.
The three-year-old colt, ridden by Norwegian-born William Buick, kept pace with the frontrunners in the 1,600-meter turf race but broke ahead in the final stretch alongside defending champion Persian Knight.
As the pack closed in, Stelvio crossed the line in 1 minute, 33.3 seconds and edged Persian Knight into second place by a head. Fourth-favorite Al Ain, piloted by Yuga Kawada, finished third.
“Today he jumped good from the gates, and he was very comfortable where he was,” Buick said of the colt sired by Lord Kanaloa.
“He’s a beautiful horse, and he’s very, very tough. He answered every call. Thanks to Mr. (Tetsuya) Kimura, the trainer, and the owners for letting me ride him today.”
Stelvio earned ¥110 million (about $975,000) in prize money for the win, and now has four first-place and three second-place finishes in nine races.
Buick, who won this year’s Epsom Derby on Masar, and trainer Kimura also picked up their first Japan Racing Association G1 victories.
“I feel very pleased,” Buick said. “I’ve been coming to Japan for four or five years, and I’ve had many good chances in Group One so I’m very glad that I keep getting support and I’m very happy to repay them with a Group One win.
“It’s a big moment in my career. It’s one of the biggest Group One’s in the world, and for me, personally, this is a very big moment.”
Mirco Demuro sat aboard third-favorite Persian Knight, while his younger brother Cristian steered sixth-favorite and G1 debutant Logi Cry to 14th.
Race-favorite Mozu Ascot, an American-bred colt ridden by Christophe Lemaire, finished 13th. Second-favorite Aerolithe, with Ryan Moore aboard, came in 12th.
In the Japan Autumn International series opener last week, Lys Gracieux and jockey Joao Moreira captured the Queen Elizabeth II Cup with both earning their first G1 victory.
The four-race JRA series continues next Sunday with the Japan Cup, followed by the Champions Cup on Dec. 2.