After claiming back-to-back wins in his two starts last season, both over the mile distance at Tokyo, the Duramente colt was sixth in the Keisei Hai (G3, 2,000 meters) in January and then turned in a third-place finish in the New Zealand Trophy (G2, 1,600 meters) in April.
For trainer Tsuyoshi Tanaka, this marks his sixth Japan Racing Association G1 victory (including two G1 steeplechase titles) and first since his Yasuda Kinen win with Logotype in 2016.
Jockey Hiroyuki Uchida picked up his 13th JRA G1 victory, his latest being the 2018 February Stakes with Nonkono Yume, and celebrates his second NHK Mile triumph after claiming it with Pink Cameo in 2007.
Champagne Color's Path to Victory
Breaking from stall 11, Champagne Color was settled in third to fourth from the rear and three-wide before coming into the lane. Steadily gaining on the leaders in the stretch and rallying with Danon Touchdown (Yuga Kawada) at the furlong pole, the chestnut colt took over the lead 100 meters out and pulled away strongly while holding off a fierce late charge by the runner-up.
"The plan was to keep him in about fifth to sixth from the pace, but the competition to position him forwardly was intense and the going was soggy so I didn't force him to move up front," Uchida said after the race.
"He came out of the last turn smoothly and responded incredibly well. While waiting for the right moment and watching out for the other runners, I just drove him to the line hoping to reach it first. It's his third win here at Tokyo — he enjoys the wide and spacious course — and we're looking forward to seeing him develop with every race he runs this season."
Umbrail Places Second in NHK Mile Cup
Full sister to 2018 Mile Championship victor Stelvio, eighth pick Umbrail (Takeshi Yokoyama's ride) was unhurried in second from the rear early, angled out for a clear path and with the fastest late kick, powered home strongly with every stride but was a head short at the line and finished second.
The Arlington Cup victor Obamburumai (Yutaka Take) settled near the rear just behind Champagne Color and in front of Umbrail, circled wide into the lane and picked off his foes one by one with the second fastest late speed. While trying to catch the eventual winner, the third favorite surrendered the runner-up seat just before the wire and finished third.
Race favorite Carro Veloce, under jockey Damian Lane, ran in mid-field in the backstretch, rallied briefly with the winner climbing the stretch hill. But Carro Veloce failed to keep up in the last furlong and while showing effort, finished fifth.
See the full NHK Mile Cup report, including notes on all of the entrants, on JRA News.
Author: JRA News