11/20/2011 11:10AM

Japan: Eishin Apollon prevails by neck in Mile Championship

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The 4-year-old Eishin Apollon recorded the most important victory of his career Sunday at Kyoto Racecourse in Japan when he captured the Group 1 Mile Championship by a neck over Fifth Petal.

The French mare Sahpresa checked in third, another 1 1/2 lengths back, while Immortal Verse, the only other international shipper in the race, could only finish seventh in another sub-par performance.

An American-bred son of Giant’s Causeway out of the mare Silk and Scarlet, Eishin Apollon gave trainer Masahiro Matsunaga the first Group 1 success of his career, winning a race worth just less than $2.5 million. Owned by Toyomitsu Hirai, Eishin Apollon was ridden to victory by Kenichi Ikezoe, who kept his mount in fairly close attendance to early leaders Silport and Live Concert while out of traffic in an 18-runner field. Eishin Apollon and Fifth Petal separated themselves from the rest in the final furlong, with the winner narrowly pushing past for victory.

There’s a chance Sahpresa could run back in a race next month at Hong Kong, but 3-year-old filly Immortal Verse – so impressive earlier in the season – has started for the last time in 2011, though she is expected to race again next year.