Lani Arrives to Prepare for Derby


Lani (center) | DRC/Andrew Watkins

Lani (Tapit), who gave Japan one of its two victories on the Dubai World Cup program Mar. 26, is bedded down in Barn 17 on the Churchill Downs backstretch after arriving Sunday to prepare for the GI Kentucky Derby May 7.

The homebred gray flew from Dubai to Chicago and remained in quarantine at Arlington Park until Sunday morning. He later boarded a van for the 5 1/2-hour trip down Interstate 65 to Louisville.

“There were no problems at all on the trip,” veterinarian Takanao Cho said through interpreter Keita Tanaka. “He was very quiet. It was very smooth.”

Owned and bred by Koji Maeda and trained by Mikio Matsunaga, Lani was rumored as far back as January as a candidate for the U.S. Classics and was nominated to the Triple Crown, but a disappointing and excuse-filled fifth in the Hyacinth S. at Tokyo in February cast some doubt over the plan. Connections pressed on to Dubai and the G2 UAE Derby, and, despite a tardy dispatch and another wide journey, Lani managed to get home in the waning strides to best 'TDN Rising Star' Polar River (Congrats).

Lani would become just the second Japanese-based horse to contest the Kentucky Derby. Ski Captain, who was ridden by Lani's jockey Yutaka Take, finished 14th behind Thunder Gulch in 1995.

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