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Monday, Oct. 21, 2002

Hishi Miracle lands triple crown final leg


Staff writer

KYOTO -- An upset had been predicted for Sunday's Kikkasho, but few saw it involving 10th pick Hishi Miracle and 16th choice Fast Tateyama, in a 1-2 finish that brought over 180,000 yen on a 100 yen exacta.

News photo
Ace jockey Yutaka Take leaps to the ground just out of the gate.

Even fewer, no doubt, foresaw it involving ace jockey Yutaka Take leaping to the ground just out of the gate and watching his mount, the race favorite, run off without him.

The sight was almost comic, but no one in the stands at Kyoto Race Course was laughing. Over 11 billion yen wagered on Take and Satsukisho winner No Reason had just been unceremoniously dumped on the rain-soaked backstretch three strides into the race.

With the heavyweight out, the remaining 17 were inspired to burn off the first kilometer in under a minute, making Japan's triple crown final leg look like a sprint and not a 3,000-meter marathon.

Into the backstretch, jockey Koichi Tsunoda moved Hishi Miracle slowly up on the outside from four off the rear. Rounding into the stretch saw the pair a length off the leader, Mega Stardom.

Hishi Miracle closed the gap by the 200-meter mark and held on, squeezing past the wire with no time to spare ahead of a fast-closing Fast Tateyama, who bumped Mega Stardom into third with two strides to go.

"I suppose you could call it a miracle," the 32-year-old Tsunoda said of the win, his first of the fall classic.

"My biggest worry was whether he'd get into the race at all," trainer Masaru Sayama admitted. "I thought he'd give us a good race but I hadn't imagined winning."

Hishi Miracle slipped into the Kikkasho lineup by lottery, as one of eight horses tied by earnings for three spots available.



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