Undefeated Contrail takes Aim at Tokyo Yushun

Contrail besting Salios in Apr. 19 Japanese 2000 Guineas | JRA Photo

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Fresh off a G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) victory Apr. 19, Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) will try to remain undefeated in the 2,400-meter G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) at Tokyo Racecourse Sunday. Victorious in last season's 1,800-meter G3 Hai Nisai S. over this course in November, he punctuated his juvenile campaign with a win in the G1 Hopeful S. Dec. 28. The likely race favorite will be reunited with Yuichi Fukunaga.

“He had a break at the farm after his last race and came back to the stable on May 6,” said assistant trainer Yusaku Oka. “In his recent work uphill, all went well, and he showed good speed. He's a horse with a lot of ability. From now going into the race, we'll up his workload.”

Attempting to turn the tables in the 87th renewal of the Derby is Salios (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}). The chestnut won his first two starts at Tokyo last season, including the G3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup in October, before scoring at the highest level in the 1,600-meter G1 Asahi Hai Futurity S. at Hanshin Dec. 15. Stretching to 2,000 meters for the first time in the Japanese Guineas, he found only Contrail too tough and had to settle for second, beaten a half length.

Trainer Noriyuki Hori explained, “It was a difficult race last time, and he didn't change leads in the home straight, as well as not getting the best ground, making things tough for him. It left him a bit tired after the race, but we've kept him at the stable since and his condition should be good enough to put him in contention for the Derby.” Jockey Damian Lane, who has ridden Salios twice before, gets the return call.

With only a trio of favorites having won the Japanese Derby over the past 10 seasons, Satono Flag (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) will try to improve on a fifth-place effort last time in the Satsuki Sho. The bay kicked off a three-race winning skein, beginning in November, including the most recent in the G2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen) at Nakayama Mar. 8.

“His three straight wins indicated what condition he's in, and last time he'd moved up well by the fourth corner to make a challenge, but just lacked a little at the end,” said trainer Sakae Kunieda. “Since then he's been at the stable and seems to be fine, with no tiredness after his last run.” Japanese champion jockey Yutaka Take, who was aboard for the colt's latest win, is expected to partner the bay Sunday.

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