The 87th running Tokyo's Yushun Japanese Derby takes place on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse.
The second colts' Classic of the year is run over 2,400 meters on turf. Out of 23 nominations, Contrail, who won the Satsuki Sho 2,000 Guineas, by Deep Impact, remains unbeaten.
SEVEN DERBY WINNERS
The Tokyo Yushun was first run in 1932, and since its inception, there have only been seven Derby winners to continue for the Triple Crown (the last one being Orfevre), proving that all three legs of the series is a big task.
A slightly better number of 23 indicates how many horses have been able to capture the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in the same year, but have failed the final Kikuka Sho St. Leger.
There will be a maximum of 18 colts, many are coming off runs in the Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho 2,000 meters at Nakayama in March, and the TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho Derby trial of 2,400 meters at Tokyo in May.
All colts are set to carry 57kg, and total prize money this year US$ 3.9 million. Only three first favorites have won in a decade years, and last year's outsider, Roger Barows, not only blew others away, he also set a new record time of 2: 22:6 /10 seconds.
Salios – a striking chestnut colt by Heart's Cry, is also an Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes keeper. His only defeat came at the hands of Contrail last time, and as trainer Noriyuki Hori says, he was just a little unlucky to come out second best.
Satono Flag – achieved a hat-trick in decent events leading along to the Derby. Yutaka Take is engaged as his jockey.
Weltreisende – One of two nominated runners for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee, by Dream Journey, has only been unplaced once in five starts, and that was when eighth to Contrail.
Galore Creek – Trained by Hiroyuki Uehara, was the horse that got closest to Contrail and Salios in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), and although it looks tough repel those two again, he still has remarkable strength for improvement.
Bitterender, by Orfevre, is unpredictable, having been unable to see things out in the Satsuki Sho, when jamming at fourteenth, but he came back with a bang when clicking the Listed Principal Stakes over 2,000 meters this month.
That got him his Derby passport, and trainer Ikuo Aizawa is very happy with him.
Darlington Hall from Godolphin's club, rallied sixth behind Contrail, and that's been the only time he's finished outside the top three, which have included two wins. With a bit more fluidity to his run, it would put him in contention here with Mirco Demuro's help.
Valcos, by Novelist, can't be overlooked, coming off a second place finish most recently in TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho. He's trained by Yasuo Tomomichi. Deep Bond by Kizuna Guineas) behind himwon the Kyoto Shimbun Hai this month over 2,200 meters.
Finally, Wakea with Christophe Lemaire, must go well. All in all, an extremely hot Derby to look forward to.