6.40 Mile Championship
GROUP 1 racing continues at Hanshin with the 38th running of the Mile Championship and a field of 16 tomorrow.
The spotlight is on the five-year-old mare Gran Alegria, awarded Best Sprinter/Miler for 2020. The top class daughter of Deep Impact is out to notch back-to-back wins of the race and her sixth Grade 1 victory for her soon-to-retire trainer Kazuo Fujisawa.
German-bred but by Kingman, the three-year-old Schnell Meister, who captured the three-year-old showcase NHK Mile Cup in the spring, is Gran Alegria’s biggest threat.
Also in the line-up is Indy Champ, who won the race in 2019 and was second to the mare last year.
The 2020 Group 1 Hopeful Stakes winner and last year’s top two-year-old colt Danon The Kid and 2020 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes winner Grenadier Guards, a son of Frankel, also add quality to the mix.
In 14 starts Gran Alegria has eight wins and has finished out of the top three only twice - a fourth in this year’s Grade 1 Osaka Hai over 2,000 metres and fifth in the 2019 NHK Mile Cup. She’s competing in her ninth Grade 1 in a row.
She took the Victoria Mile in May, then returned just three weeks later for the Yasuda Kinen, which she lost to Danon Kingly by a head. She returned in October for the 10-furlong Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) but put up a fine effort if only third behind Efforia and last year’s Triple Crown winner Contrail over the longer distance. She is back at her best distance now with jockey Christophe Lemaire in the saddle.
Schnell Meister won the NHK Mile Cup in early May and followed that up with a third-place finish, half a length behind Gran Alegria in the Yasuda Kinen a month later in his first time competing against older horses.
Danon The Kid was unbeaten in his three runs at two, but the Just A Way colt was diagnosed with a fracture after he was well beaten in the Japanese 2000 Guineas.
He returned after six months to finish fourth in his first mile, the Grade 2 Fuji Stakes in October at Tokyo, and this distance may prove more to his liking.
Salios, the 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes winner, finished a closing fifth here last year and could perform much better than his recent form. “He’s a different horse from what he was in the Yasuda Kinen,” trainer Noriyuki Hori said.
Indy Champ, a six-year-old son of Stay Gold also returns from a fourth, a neck behind Gran Alegria and Schnell Meister, in the Yasuda Kinen.
The winner in 2019, and second last year, Indy Champ’s last win was the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup in late April 2020.
Grenadier Guards finished third behind Schnell Meister in the NHK Mile Cup at Tokyo. The colt returned after four months off to finish third in the Grade 3 Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap in September.