Overwhelming favorite Equinox won the autumn Tenno-sho horse race for his fifth consecutive Grade 1 victory Sunday, with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako in attendance.

Ridden by Christophe Lemaire, the world's top-rated racehorse finished the 2,000-meter race 2-1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Justin Palace in a record 1 minute, 55.2 seconds at Tokyo Racecourse.

The 4-year-old colt has won seven of his nine career races, including the Dubai Sheema Classic in March.

Equinox, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, wins the autumn Tenno-sho horse race on Oct. 29, 2023, at Tokyo Racecourse. (Kyodo)

"Equinox is the world's No. 1 horse," Lemaire said. "I know well what he's capable of, so I was confident we could win."

Equinox took the lead early in the final stretch, with about 400 meters left to go, and was never challenged en route to becoming the third horse to win back-to-back autumn Tenno-sho titles.

"I was surprised when I saw the time board. This perfect horse has everything. He can get a good position from the start. And then he can stay calm. He can finish strong," Lemaire said.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave from the balcony of the VIP room as they watch the autumn Tenno-sho horse race at Tokyo Racecourse on Oct. 29, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Prognosis was third, 1-1/4 lengths behind Justin Palace.

Second favorite Do Deuce settled for seventh with jockey Keita Tosaki, who replaced the injured Yutaka Take.

Emperor Naruhito's visit was the first to a horse racing venue by a reigning emperor since the previous emperor, Akihito, attended the same race in October 2012.

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