11/17/2011 5:07PM

Kyoto: Immortal Verse heads Mile Championship

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Three-year-old French filly Immortal Verse has made her first international trip, shipping to Japan where she starts Sunday at Kyoto in the Mile Championship, worth a little less than $2.5 million.

All that travel and Immortal Verse runs into a familiar foe, Sahpresa, another French filly and the fourth-place finisher in the 2010 edition of the Mile Championship. Robert Collet trains Immortal Verse, and his son, Rod Collet, trains Sahpresa.

A full field of 18 is expected for the Kyoto Mile, including last year’s hero, A Shin Forward, who has failed to win since that victory. Immortal Verse and Sahpresa are the only non-Japanese runners in the race, which is contested over a right-handed course.

Immortal Verse proved no match for Frankel last month in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, checking in third while well beaten by runner-up Excelebration. But Immortal Verse had missed important training time just before that race, and stands a decent chance of coming significantly forward in Sunday’s race. Before the Ascot loss she had won three straight starts, including a victory over Goldikova and Sahpresa in the Prix Jacque le Marois in August. A somewhat slight filly, Immortal Verse prefers to linger near the rear of the field early in her races before coming with a big late run.

Six-year-old Sahpresa’s peak performance probably rates slightly lower than Immortal Verse’s. The eight-time winner convincingly won the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in her most recent performance, but while the Sun Chariot is a Group 1 the fillies just behind Sahpresa in September were not world-class.