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Horse racing: Gran Alegria wins Mile Championship, 3rd straight G1

Jockey Christophe Lemaire celebrates Gran Alegria's third straight Grade 1 victory at the Mile Championship on Nov. 22, 2020, at Hanshin Racecourse in Takarazuka, western Japan. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Gran Alegria made a stunning late dash to capture the 37th running of the Mile Championship at Hanshin Racecourse on Sunday and claim her third straight Grade 1 victory.

    Steered by Japan's leading jockey Christophe Lemaire, the race-favorite barreled around the pack in the final stretch and crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 32 seconds, three-quarters of a length ahead of third-favorite Indy Champ.

    "She made a good start and got into a good position, so I was able to relax and just let her run," said Lemaire, who won the race for the first time.

    "She has explosive power and put her good legs to use over the last 150 meters. She showed off her strength at the end."

    Fifth-pick Admire Mars finished third a neck behind Indy Champ, while second-favorite Salios settled for fifth.

    The second leg of the Japan Autumn International series consisted of only domestic horses this year and was held at Hanshin Racecourse while its regular venue in Kyoto undergoes repairs.

    Gran Alegria also prevailed at the Yasuda Kinen in June and the Sprinters Stakes earlier this month. The 4-year-old filly by Deep Impact improved to seven wins in 10 starts and earned her fourth G1 title.

    The four-race Japan Autumn International series kicked off at the same venue last Sunday with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, won for the second straight year by Lucky Lilac, also ridden by Lemaire.

    The series continues next Sunday with the Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse, followed by the Champions Cup on Dec. 6 at Chukyo Racecourse near Nagoya.

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