2018 News

May 22, 2018


Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) - Preview
Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas Trial) (G2)
Danon Premium

Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1)
Epoca d'Oro

Mainichi Hai (G3)
Blast Onepiece

TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho (Japanese Derby Trial) (G2)
Go for the Summit

Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes (Japanese 2000 Guineas Trial) (G2)

Kitano Commandeur
Kitano Commandeur

Keisei Hai (G3)
Generale Uno

Sans Rival
Sans Rival

Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3)

Top flight horseracing action in Japan comes thick and fast at this time of year, and things will reach fever pitch on Sunday, May 27, when Tokyo Racecourse stages the Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), one of the truly great races on the Japanese racing calendar. It will be the 85th running of the race, which was first held at the Meguro Racecourse in Tokyo in 1932. The race draws crowds of 100,000 or more, and last year saw just over 123,000 racing fans pass through the gates to witness Rey de Oro’s Derby victory.

This year sees the race attract 21 nominations, all colts, and a number of them will be clashing again after meeting earlier this year in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas). Twenty three winners of the Satsuki Sho have gone on to win the Derby, and there have just been seven Triple Crown winners in Japanese racing history, the last one being Orfevre in 2011.

Lead up races to the Derby have included the Grade 3 Mainichi Hai over 1,800 meters at Hanshin in March, the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho over 2,000 meters at Nakayama in March, and the Grade 2 TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho (Derby trial) over 2,400 meters at Tokyo in April. The record time for the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Deby) is held by Duramente, who stopped the clock in a time of 2 minutes, 23.2 seconds in 2015. Four first favorites have won in the past decade, and this year Danon Premium looks like he will go off a pretty strong favorite.

The race will be run over 2,400 meters on the turf track, and all runners carry a set weight of 57kg. There’s a 200 million yen check awaiting the winner. The Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) will be Race 10 on the card on Sunday, with a post time of 15:40 local time. Final declarations and the barrier draw will come out later in the week, but here’s a look at some of the top colts expected to be in the line-up:

Danon Premium: The colt by Deep Impact is unbeaten in four career starts, and although he won well in the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho in March, he had to miss the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) with a slight hoof injury. He looks like the one they have to beat, carrying over his top form as a 2-year-old into this year as well. Assistant trainer Teruhiko Saruhashi commented on the colt’s progress: “He had to miss the Satsuki Sho because of the stone bruise, so his target then became the Derby. We’ve concentrated on getting him back into top condition, and there’s no issue at all with the injury he sustained.” Trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida will be looking for just his second Grade 1 title, his first was also attained by Danon Premium.

Epoca d’Oro: The son of Orfevre took a few people by surprise when he won the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) in April. He ran out a two-length winner and started as the seventh favorite. Jockey Keita Tosaki has ridden him the last three times, and he will be hoping the colt can give him victory in the Derby. It’ll be the first time for Epoca d’Oro to run at Tokyo, and the first time for him to race left-handed. He hails from the stable of leading trainer Hideaki Fujiwara. “In his last race, there was a lot of pace up front, but he was content to sit off the pace and just run at his own rhythm,” assistant trainer Nobuyuki Tashiro said. “This paid off in the end, when he was produced well and went on to win, proving that it was a successful trial race for him.”

Blast Onepiece: The interestingly named colt by Harbinger is unbeaten in three starts, two as a 3-year-old, and the latest when he won the Grade 3 Mainichi Hai as favorite, over 1,800 meters at Hanshin in March. The horse runs in the Silk Racing Co. Ltd. colors, and is looking to give his trainer, Masahiro Otake, his first Grade 1 win. “He drew Gate No. 1 and started favorite last time, and the jockey decided to get him forward early in the race, and this worked out well,” Otake said. “Even though he hit the running rail, there was no problem. He’s had his usual break at Northern Farm Tenei, and came back to the stable on May 3.”

Go for the Summit: Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa looks to have another good horse on his hands in the form of Go for the Summit. The Heart’s Cry colt claimed the Grade 2 TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho over the Derby course and distance in April, and what’s more he did it in a time of 2 minutes, 24.4 seconds. “He was different for his last race in the Aoba Sho, where he took up a good position and was produced late in the home straight to go on and win,” assistant trainer Daisuke Tsumagari said. “He seems well suited to the Tokyo track.”

Stelvio: The colt by Lord Kanaloa will get a boost from the sire’s Oaks’ win last week. Stelvio was second in last year’s Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes in December, and fourth most recently in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), when finishing strongly. He’s three wins and two seconds in six starts in all. An assistant training staff at the stable of trainer Tetsuya Kimura said: “It was a bit unfortunate in the Satsuki Sho, where the jockey said he was in a good position to run on at the end, but the ground wasn’t so good and the horse found no extra. He’s since had a break at Northern Farm Tenei, and came back on May 11. He seems to be his usual self.”   

Kitano Commandeur: Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee won the Derby with Orfevre in 2011, and his hope this time around is Kitano Commandeur. The Deep Impact colt finished fifth in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), having won his previous two races. The horse will be jockey Mirco Demuro’s big race ride. The trainer recently said: “He didn’t particularly like the condition of the course last time, but he still tried his best. His result was a good thing for getting into the Derby, and I do think of him as a Derby horse.”

Generale Uno: The Hokkaido Select Sale purchase looks to have been a good one when considering Generale Uno’s third place finish in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) most recently. The colt by Screen Hero has won at Tokyo over 2,000 meters, and the way he stayed on last time suggests 2,400 meters should not be a problem. “It was a difficult race last time with the three runners going on ahead early, but the jockey did a good job and was able to get the best out of the horse,” trainer Eiichi Yano said. “He’s had a break at Northern Farm Tenei and came back to the stable on May 8.”

Sans Rival: The Rulership colt boasts solid form with a fourth-place finish to Danon Premium in the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho over 2,000 meters at Nakayama, and subsequently when second to Epoca d’Oro in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) also over 2,000 meters at Nakayama. It will be his first run at Tokyo this time. “He got into a good position last time, but the winner took off quickly, and things might have been different had he been able to challenge,” trainer Kenichi Fujioka said. “It was a tough race, and we’ve since been careful with him to get over some muscle damage he sustained in the race.”

Wagnerian: Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga has ridden Wagnerian in all of his five starts, which have included three victories. The top jockey will be hoping the colt can give him his first ever Derby victory. Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi recently said, “In training, we’re concentrating on getting him to run smoothly and keeping him relaxed, not worrying about times so much.”
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