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Monday, May 14, 2007

Koiuta, Asahi Rising shock field

Staff Writer

The top picks were nowhere in sight at the finish of Tokyo's main race Sunday, with longshot Koiuta and ninth choice Asahi Rising turning in a surprise one-two finish in the second running of the Grade 1 Victoria Mile. Koiuta ("love song") bested the field of 18 to bring home her first win in over a year, a long-awaited victory that was surely sweet music to owner/singer Kiyoshi Maekawa. It was sweet music as well for 23-year-old jockey Masami Matsuoka, who picked up his first grade 1 victory of a 4-year career following a grueling battle down the stretch. Matsuoka, holding Koiuta in sixth position from the backstretch, brought the 4-year-old filly sharply in just at the base of the straight slope to pull clear of traffic and open up for the run home. Asahi Rising, also 4, who had held the lead from the start, battled bravely under a volley of lashes as the equally strong Matsuoka urged Koiuta near on the inside and third-place finisher by a nose Daring Heart gained ground on the far outside. Asahi Rising was no match, overcome by Koiuta some 100 meters from the line. Favorite Kawakami Princess and second pick Sweep Tosho, who loaded uncharacteristically with little protest, looked fine under way, but returned fans' expectations by crushing the 10th and ninth-place finishers, respectively. Kiss to Heaven crossed the line in fourth place, with Jolly Dance in fifth. Koiuta, by Fuji Kiseki, out of the Dr Devious mare Violet Love, was bred by Shadai Farm in Hokkaido. She is now 5-for-16, with the Victoria Mile's 90-million yen winner's share boosting her earnings to more than 236 million yen. Winning time over the 1,600 meters of fast turf was 1 minute, 32.5 seconds. The No. 4 Koiuta paid 6,030 yen on a 100 yen wager. One hundred yen down on the trifecta 4-3-16 would have resulted in a fine Mother's Day bouquet of over 2.28 million yen.

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