Derby Points on the Line at Toyko

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The postponement of the GI Kentucky Derby from May to September forced a reworking of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races, both at home and abroad. The Japanese component of the series, which offers the highest points-getter an automatic berth in the gate at Churchill Downs, has been extended by two races, and the first of those, the G3 Unicorn S. (1600m), is set for Sunday afternoon at Tokyo Racecourse.

A pair of American-bred imports, each undefeated in two career appearances, figure to dominate the market. Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah) walloped a group of newcomers by 10 lengths going a mile and an eighth at first asking at Nakayama in December. The $475,000 OBS March acquisition returned in the Listed Hyacinth S. over Sunday's course and distance Feb. 23 and rallied from off the pace to best Tagano Beauty (Jpn) (Henny Hughes) by 1 1/4 lengths, earning 30 Kentucky Derby points in the process (see below, gate 3). Boom Australian jockey Damian Lane has the call, but will have to work some magic from the widest berth in the field of 16.

Lecce Baroque (Uncle Mo) gets four pounds from her male rivals and has yet to face a challenge in her young career. A 10-length debut winner over seven panels Feb. 8, the $410,000 Keeneland September purchase turned $525,000 OBSMAR breezer made light work of an allowance field Apr. 25, rolling home by nine lengths untouched (video, gate 10). Christophe Lemaire rides from gate five.

American-conceived Dieu du Vin (Jpn) (Declaration of War) defeated the talented Danon Pharaoh (Jpn) (American Pharoah) on debut over track and distance in October and followed up with a rallying success in the Nov. 23 Cattleya Sho (allowance), the first of the Kentucky Derby points races. Well-beaten in a lone turf start in Group 3 company in April, the son of Jealous Cat (Tapit) overcame a high draw to take a 1600-meter allowance at headquarters May 17. Mirco Demuro is at the controls.

Aurora Tesoro (Malibu Moon) was a close fourth in the Cattleya Sho and was a winner of a seven-furlong test at Hanshin Apr. 4. He was most recently eighth, but not beaten far, behind Satono Rafale (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}) in a similar heat at Kyoto May 3.

The Unicorn offers the top four finishers points on a 40-16-8-4 scale. The final leg of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Japan Dirt Derby (2000m) at Ohi Racecourse July 8.

 

WATCH: Cafe Pharoah overcomes a slow start to win the Hyacinth S.

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