AUSTRALIAN Horse of the Year, Scenic Blast, lost momentum and stumbled before finishing last in the rich Sprinters Stakes in Japan on Sunday.

Scenic Blast, the third favorite, was chasing a $US1 million Global Sprint Challenge bonus for a third Group 1 victory in three different countries.

The first overseas entry in the Sprinters Stakes in three years, Scenic Blast still leads the Global Sprint Challenge by a comfortable 19 points after winning the Coolmore Lightning Stakes and the King’s Stand Stakes.

His defeat has apparently not altered plans for a tilt at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Spring in December.

Takamatsunomiya Kinen champion, Laurel Guerreiro, edged out B B Guldan by all of one centimeter to win the 43rd Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse. Favorite and G2 Centaur Stakes winner, Ultima Thule, faded on the home stretch to run fifth at her G1 debut.

“I’m just glad we won today,” jockey Shinji Fujita said during the post-race press conference. “To be honest, I thought we may have been at a disadvantage at the wire. It was just really hard to tell because there was a lot of space between us and the horse on the outside.”

Before a crowd of just under 46,000 on a sunny afternoon at Nakayama, Laurel Geerreiro ran to the lead and pushed the pace through the first 600 meters at 32.9 seconds before turning for home along the railing, with B B Guldan, under veteran Katsumi Ando, closing in fast to his outside.

After clearing the hill on the 310m straight, the two horses appeared to crash the wire at the same time and it went to a photo finish to determine the new Sprinters Stakes champion. But the finish was so close that the review required almost 15 minutes before a decision was made.



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