Yoko Maeda's G2 UAE Derby winner Lani (Tapit) breezed five furlongs in 1:01 flat (3/18) Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs in his final piece of work prior to Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby.
Prior to the work, Keita Tanaka, the spokesman for the Lani camp, said, “He may work six furlongs if he is happy after one lap.”
With regular exercise rider Eishu Maruuchi aboard, the gray clocked fractions of :12.40, :24.40, :36.60 and :48.60 for the five-panel work. Trainer Mikio Matsunaga was on hand for Tuesday's breeze and was pleased with what he saw.
“The rider did a very good job. It was a nice work,” Matsunaga said through Tanaka. “I think he is fast enough and happy enough to run in the Derby.”
It was the first time Matsunaga had seen his charge in a month.
“He had just put in a big race [in Dubai] and I wanted to give him time to relax the past three weeks to be fresh to run in the Kentucky Derby,” Matsunaga said. “He is doing very well.”
Lani will be the first Japanese-based runner to compete in the Derby in 21 years since Ski Captain finished 14th behind Thunder Gulch in 1995. Yutaka Take, who rode Ski Captain, has the mount on Lani.
“I know it is extremely difficult to have a horse in this race,” Matsunaga remarked. “Not only do I have a runner, but one with a good chance. I want to change history.”