2022 News

May 23, 2022


Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) - Data Analysis

Ultimate contest that determines the very best 3-year-old
The Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) has a reputation for determining the very best 3-year-old, and it has been consistently held on a turf 2,400m course since it was established in 1932. Which runner will rise to the top of the generation this year? Let’s now analyze some features shared by successful runners in this race based on results over the last 10 years.

Highly favored runners perform well
Of the 20 Top 2 finishers over the last 10 years, 19 were backed as 5th favorite or higher. As the race is restricted to 3-year-olds, most of the runners already have competed with each other in their previous races. We should therefore basically assume that top talent backed by high favoritism is likely to perform well in this race. [Table 1]

[Table 1] Performance by favoritism (last 10 years)
Favoritism Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
5thfavorite or higher 9-10-4-27 18.0% 38.0% 46.0%
6th favorite or lower 1-0-6-121 0.8% 0.8% 5.5%

Runners starting in inner brackets have a slight edge
Looking at performances by runners over the last 10 years in terms of bracket number, we find that runners starting in the inner brackets tend to have a slight edge as they are not hampered by a distance disadvantage. In the five consecutive years from 2013 to 2017, runners starting in Brackets 1 or 2 have finished in the Top 2. In particular, runners starting in Bracket 1 have produced three winners: Kizuna in 2013, One and Only in 2014, and Roger Barows (backed as 12th favorite) in 2019. [Table 2]

[Table 2] Performance by bracket number (last 10 years)
Bracket number Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
1, 2 4-3-3-30 10.0% 17.5% 25.0%
3, 4 1-2-2-34 2.6% 7.7% 12.8%
5, 6 3-4-2-31 7.5% 17.5% 22.5%
7, 8 2-1-3-53 3.4% 5.1% 10.2%

Runners with four or more previous wins are fairly reliable
Looking at the correlation between the number of previous wins in JRA races and success ratios for runners over the last 10 years, we observe that runners with four or more previous wins achieved the highest success ratios, and that success ratios gradually declined for winners with 3 and 2 wins. In other words, success ratios worsened in tandem with a decline in the number of previous wins, and the number of Top 3 finishers dropped to zero for runners with only one previous win. This suggests that the reliability of the runners strengthens in tandem with an increase in their previous wins. [Table 3]

[Table 3] Performance by number of wins in JRA races (last 10 years)
Number of wins Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
4 or more 2-2-0-8 16.7% 33.3% 33.3%
3 4-7-6-50 6.0% 16.4% 25.4%
2 4-1-4-74 4.8% 6.0% 10.8%
1 0-0-0-16 0% 0% 0%

Runners with four or five career starts perform well
Looking at performances by career starts, we note that many runners with four or five career starts performed well. Runners in this group dominated the Top 2 in the five consecutive years from 2016 to 2020. Meanwhile, runners with seven or more career starts had exceptionally low success ratios, and have not produced a single Top 3 finisher since 2016. [Table 4]

[Table 4] Performance by total career starts (past 10 years)
Total career starts Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
3 1-0-0-6 14.3% 14.3% 14.3%
4 3-4-2-24 9.1% 21.2% 27.3%
5 4-4-4-31 9.3% 18.6% 27.9%
6 1-1-3-34 2.6% 5.1% 12.8%
7 or more 1-1-1-53 1.8% 3.6% 5.4%

High likelihood of success for runners with a strong showing in the Satsuki Sho
Looking at performances by runners over the last 10 years in terms of their previous race, we find that runners coming from the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) have the highest likelihood of success in the Japanese Derby. However, no runners in this group managed to bounce back from a 9th or lower finish in the Satsuki Sho to achieve a Top 3 finish in the Japanese Derby. The only other previous races to deliver Top 3 finishers were the Kyoto Shimbun Hai, the Mainichi Hai, the TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho (Japanese Derby Trial), and the Principal Stakes. Of the 10 runners that came from these races and finished in the Top 3 of the Japanese Derby, nine had finished in the Top 2 of their previous race. In addition, although runners such as King Kamehameha in the past exhibited strong performance in the Japanese Derby after contesting the NHK Mile Cup, runners coming from the NHK Mile Cup produced zero Top 3 winners in the last 10 years. [Table 5]

[Table 5] Performance by previous race (last 10 years)
Previous race Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
Satsuki Sho
(Japanese 2000 Guineas)
7-8-5-66 8.1% 17.4% 23.3%
Kyoto Shimbun Hai 2-1-1-19 8.7% 13.0% 17.4%
Mainichi Hai 1-0-0-5 16.7% 16.7% 16.7%
TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho
(Japanese Derby Trial)
0-1-3-19 0% 4.3% 17.4%
Principal Stakes 0-0-1-8 0% 0% 11.1%
NHK Mile Cup 0-0-0-22 0% 0% 0%
Other race 0-0-0-9 0% 0% 0%

Seek out the winner!
Check runners of sires ranked among the Top 5 leading sires in the previous year
Runners sired by Deep Impact have historically performed well in the Japanese Derby, notching seven wins in the last 10 years, including four consecutive wins through 2021. In years when the victory was secured by a runner of a sire other than Deep Impact, the winner’s sire was ranked among the Top 5 leading sires of the previous year. In other words, we should focus again this year on runners of sires that were ranked among the Top 5 leading sires in 2021 (namely, Deep Impact, Lord Kanaloa, Heart’s Cry, Kizuna, and King Kamehameha). [Table 6]

[Table 6] Position of winners’ sire in the year-earlier leading sires ranking (last 10 years)
Year Winner Sire Sire ranking in the previous year
2012 Deep Brillante Deep Impact 2nd
2013 Kizuna Deep Impact 1st
2014 One and Only Heart’s Cry 5th
2015 Duramente King Kamehameha 2nd
2016 Makahiki Deep Impact 1st
2017 Rey de Oro King Kamehameha 2nd
2018 Wagnerian Deep Impact 1st
2019 Roger Barows Deep Impact 1st
2020 Contrail Deep Impact 1st
2021 Shahryar Deep Impact 1st


(Yodohito Himezono)

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