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Gran Alegria defends Mile Championship title before retiring


Defending champion and odds-on favorite Gran Alegria won the 38th running of the Mile Championship on Sunday, finishing her racing career with a sixth Grade 1 victory.

After getting off to a slow start, French jockey Christophe Lemaire took Gran Alegria to the outside down the stretch at Hanshin Racecourse and battled his way to the lead over the last 300 meters to win by three-quarters of a length.

Gran Alegria clocked 1 minute, 32.6 seconds to finish just 0.1 second ahead of second-favorite Schnell Meister in the 1,600-meter turf race. Danon the Kid was a further half-length behind in third.

“I feel relief. This was Gran Alegria’s last race so I wanted to show what she is made of. She showed that she is one of a kind,” said Lemaire, who picked up his 1,500th win on the government-owned Japan Racing Association circuit.

“She had always been a special horse. She has raced at the top level since she was 2 and always raced well. Fans loved her. I’ll really miss her,” he said.

Gran Alegria, a five-year-old Deep Impact mare, collected ¥130 million ($1.14 million) in prize money and reached ¥1 billion ($8.77 million) in career earnings.

The race has been held at Hanshin Racecourse since 2020 due to renovation work on Kyoto Racecourse, where it is normally held.

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