05/01/2016 2:44PM

Japan: Maurice extends winning streak to seven in Champions Mile


Maurice, the Japanese Horse of the Year in 2015, scored his seventh consecutive victory in Sunday’s $1,804,867 Champions Mile on turf at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong.

The Group 1 Champions Mile was the first start for Maurice since a win in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin last December.

Ridden by Joao Moreira for trainer Noriyuki Hori, Maurice, the 11-10 favorite,  closed from fourth with a three-wide move and won by two lengths over 7-2 Contentment, the winner of the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup for turf sprinters at Sha Tin in February. Packing Pins, a 10-1 shot, was third in the field of 12.

“He was lucky to get such a good position in the race, which gave me plenty of options to put him out whenever I wanted,” Moreira said. “He gave me so much confidence that he was going to get there any time that I was going to press the button. When I gave him the daylight, he just started to get going by himself and showed what he is capable of.”

Maurice is a 5-year-old Japanese-bred horse by Screen Hero.

Earlier on the program, Chautauqua won the $1,289,191 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on turf, a victory that is expected to lead to a start at Royal Ascot in England in June.

The Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize was run at six furlongs. Mongolian Saturday, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland last October, finished ninth of 14.

Chautauqua closed from last to become the first Australian-based runner to win a Group 1 race in Hong Kong.

Ridden by Tommy Berry for trainer Michael Hawkes, Chautauqua has won 12 of 22 starts. In Sunday’s race, Berry guided Chautauqua wide and closed about six lengths in the final three-sixteenths of a mile to finish a neck in front Lucky Bubbles. Strathmore was third, giving Australian-based runners a sweep of the first three positions.

Chautauqua needed to have a hind leg reshod twice before the race.  Chautauqua is a candidate for the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18. If he wins that race, he would be eligible for a $1 million bonus for winning three races in the Global Sprint Challenge. The program includes the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes in Australia, which Chautauqua won last month, and Sunday’s race at Sha Tin.

Chautauqua is a 5-year-old gelding by Encosta De Lago, by Fairy King, a former leading sire in Australia.

Kitasan Black wins $3 million Tenno Sho

At Kyoto Racecourse in Japan, Kitasan Black (7-2) led throughout the $3,055,947 spring running of the Tenno Sho to win his first major stakes since the Grade 1 Japanese St. Leger last year.

 Kitasan Black, who was ridden by Yutaka Take, won by a nose over 98-1 Curren Mirotic, who finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of 5-1 Cheval Grand in the field of 18. Gold Actor, unraced since winning the Grade 1 Arima Kinen last December, finished 12th as the 5-2 favorite.

Kitasan Black, a 4-year-old by Black Tide, was third in the Arima Kinen and second in the Sankei Osaka Hai last month in a prep for the Tenno Sho, which was run at about two miles on turf.

Owned by Ono Shoji and trained by Hisashi Shimizu, Kitasan Black has won 6 of 10 starts in his career.