Eishin Flash captures 77th Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby)
125,746 racing fans attended 77th running of the Japanese Derby, the pinnacle race for 3yo colts and fillies, at Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu City on a cool and cloudy Sunday. Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) third-place finisher Eishin Flash and Rose Kingdom, 2-year-old champion and fourth in the Satsuki Sho, turned the tables against two strong favorites, unbeaten Pelusa (by Zenno Rob Roy) and Satsuki Sho victor, Victoire Pisa (by Neo Universe), as a slow pace and a slow break wreaked havoc through the ranks of the 77th running of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).
Eishin Flash, with Hiroyuki Uchida up, broke from the No. 1 slot and waited patiently mid pack to make their move. Having saved energy over a 1:01.6 first 1,000 meters, he had what it took for a blistering finish that took him over the final 600 meters in 32.7 seconds. He reached the wire a neck ahead of runnerup and race fifth choice Rose Kingdom, who had also come from midfield..
With no front runners, three horses – Aliseo, Cosmo Phantom, and Meisho Uzushio -- bunched in front and pushed early fractions to 12.8 - 13.5 - 13.1. Race favorite Pelusa, who went to the gate an unbeaten 4 for 4, suffered a late break for which he paid dearly. Having to make up ground despite the slow early pace, jockey Norihiro Yokoyama chose to hold Pelusa three off the rear and inched forward going into the bend, then drove for home up the outside but to no avail, finishing in sixth place.
Second choice Victoire Pisa fared better having stayed nearer the front but unable to cope well with the slow pace and finished third place a length and three-quarters behind Rose Kingdom.
In fourth place was Gestalt, with Rulership just making the board in fifth place. Eishin Flash covered the 2,400 meters of fast turf in 2 minutes 26.9 seconds.
It was the first win of the Derby for both rider Hiroyuki Uchida and trainer Hideaki Fujiwara. It was only the fifth top-level victory for Uchida thus far. Though the fans met the winning pair at the finish line with less than unbridled enthusiasm, Uchida let nothing spoil his moment. Shaking his fist repeatedly in triumph, he looked to be thoroughly enjoying his moment in the sun. It was the 39-year-old Uchida’s sixth try at the Derby. His best thus far had been a fifth-place last year. Later he admitted it was a dreamlike moment. “Even though I know I’ve won, it hasn’t really sunk in.” The pair were met back at the weighing room by teary-eyed stable staff as Uchida raised and shook his outstretched arms high above his head before dismounting.
Leading jockey last year, Uchida was injured early this year and forced to sit out some two months before returning to racing. He failed to perform well, however, and Sunday made a point of speaking to the fans before commenting on his Derby win. “I’d had a lot happen this year and my body just wouldn’t do what I asked it to,” he said. “I felt bad for the fans and am glad I can finally give them some good results. I hope that I can continue to give them the kind of results they expect of me.”
In the dark bay Eishin Flash, Uchida said, he had had total confidence and the slow pace had not shaken him as they waited to move. “There was no reason to move him forward early. I knew there were very good horses in front so wasn’t worried about getting caught behind a wall. I knew he had what it took to turn in a good finish.”
Eishin Flash, by King’s Best out of the Platini mare Moonlady, was bred at Shadai Farm in Hokkaido. He is now 4 for 7 with just under 274 million in earnings. The win of the Derby alone as worth 150 million yen.
The return on the No. 1 ticket to win paid 3,190 yen. The winning exacta 1-8 returned 46,210 yen and the winning trifecta 1-8-7 was worth 152,910 yen on a 100-yen wager.