12/11/2016 9:24AM

Beauty Only leads home-team sweep in Hong Kong Mile

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HONG KONG – Beauty Only led a sweep for the home team in the Hong Kong Mile, beating Helene Paragon to the line by a half-length to give jockey Zac Purton his second Group 1 success on the Sunday card at Sha Tin.

Beauty Only is trained in Hong Kong by Tony Cruz, while Hong Kong-based John Moore saddled the second- and third-place finishers, Helene Paragon and Holy Trinity. Contentment, trained by John Size, finished fourth, while local legend and race favorite Able Friend could get home only sixth, a decent effort in only his second race back from a long layoff.

Purton, an Aussie import, piloted Aerovelocity to victory in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint earlier on the card.

The $3 million Mile looked on paper a wide-open race and finished that way, with the first four finishers separated by only 1 1/4 lengths and the top 12 spread only 4 1/2 lengths apart. Beauty Flame, Beauty Only’s stablemate, ripped out of the gate and went straight to the front, setting a much-faster-than-par pace for the class level as the eventual top three raced 11th, 10th, and ninth, respectively, into the far turn.

Purton had hoped to hold position and save ground to the homestretch, but another horse came out for room, forcing Beauty Only into the three path on the turn, and Purton had to start his run earlier than desired.

It mattered not. Beauty Only, with a full head of steam, jumped on the lead pack about a furlong out and inched clear to score the most important victory of his career. He ran 1,600 meters in 1:33.48 and paid $12 to win in U.S. betting.

By Holy Roman Emperor out of Goldendale, by Ali-Royal, Beauty Only is a 5-year-old Irish-bred who is racing for the third season in Hong Kong. A year ago he dropped away from a stalking position to finish eighth in the Hong Kong Cup over 1 1/4 miles, but has since been kept to races at seven furlongs and a mile, consistently delivering a strong closing punch.

"I think we haven't seen the best of him yet. From the day we bought him, we had high expectations with him and I'm so pleased to see how he has improved this season,” Cruz said.

Able Friend, who won this race in 2014 and finished third in it last year, had only the disappointing Satono Aladdin beat around the far turn, and closed with decent energy down the center of the track following a six-furlong comeback race last month.

"He feels like he needed another run,” jockey Joao Moreira said. “His lack of fitness told. He should be right on his next run."