Isla Bonita and To the World, the respective winner and runner-up in the Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) in April, and champion filly Red Reveur are among a full field of 18 entered for the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby) June 1.
Yushun" is Japanese for "superlative steed", and the Tokyo Yushun, at 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) on grass, is Japan's biggest race for 3-year-olds.
The past 10 winners of the Derby have largely two things in common: All but two have figured in the top four slots of the Satsuki Sho or in the top two spots of another group I race. All but one have won a major turf race as a 3-year-old at a distance of 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) or longer or have won or finished second in a group I race. Applying this to the Derby field this year leaves three runners: Isla Bonita, To the World and Red Reveur.
Eight Derby winners have come from the inside five post positions, and four of those in only the past six winners have had the No. 1 slot.
Isla Bonita (by Fuji Kiseki) looks to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown as the Satsuki Sho champion. With five wins and only one second (a loss to filly Harp Star) in his career six starts, Isla Bonita is the winningest of this year's Derby field and the expected Derby favorite.
The Hironori Kurita-trained Isla Bonita captured the Triple Crown's first leg running in his first race longer than 1,800 meters, and this will be his first time at the Derby distance. It will not, however, be his first time at Tokyo. His four previous wins have all been at the venue and include the Kyodo News Service Hai and the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes(both Jpn-III).
To the World (by King Kamehameha) trails Isla Bonita record-wise by one win, with four wins and two seconds in six starts. In the Satsuki Sho, he broke as the race favorite from the No. 17 gate and quickly settled in third position, where he held his ground and finished second. It was a race run in similar style to his previous start, the Yayoi Sho (Jpn-II), when he claimed his fourth win in a row in his first bid at the graded level.
The Yasutoshi Ikee-trained To the World has a shot at his sire's first father-son Derby triumph and, with his dam having run second in the Japanese Oaks (Jpn-I), the extra distance should not only not be a problem.
Red Reveur (by Stay Gold) was champion 2-year-old filly of 2013. The sole filly in the Derby lineup, the Oka Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese One Thousand Guineas) runner-up is the first female to try the Derby in seven years since Vodka's winning run in 2007. If Red Reveur would be able to duplicate that performance, she would become only the fourth filly in the race's history to make it to the winner's circle.
The filly has only four races behind her and none of them at distances longer than 1,800 meters. It will also be her first time racing to the left. Red Reveur aced her first three races, which included the Sapporo Nisai Stakes (Jpn-III) against colts on only her second start and victory over Harp Star in her third start, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (Jpn-I). Red Reveur's only loss was her second by a neck in the Oka Sho behind Harp Star. Red Reveur took the Oka Sho without a prep after a layoff of more than four months for trainer Naosuke Sugai.
One and Only (by Heart's Cry). If the win by Nuovo Record in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) is any indication, Heart's Cry offspring could be on a roll. After winning the Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai Stakes (Jpn-III) at Hanshin at year's end, One and Only came back to the track over two months later and ran second in the Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Jpn-II) with the fastest final three-furlong time of the field. In the Satsuki Sho, he again turned in the field's fastest stretch drive in coming from far off the front, but missed the money by a head for fourth place.
It would look like the extra three furlongs of the Derby and the long Tokyo stretch will surely work in the favor of the Kojiro Hashiguchi-trained One and Only.
Bell Canyon (by Deep Impact) was runner-up to Isla Bonita in the Kyodo News Service Hai in February, He followed that up with two disappointing runs, a sixth in the Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes (Jpn-II) and a seventh in the Satsuki Sho. His last outing saw him back at Tokyo, where he had a win and two seconds from three races, and he once again found the winner's circle of the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) Principal Stakes, a win that also won him his berth in the Derby.
Shonan Lagoon (by Symboli Kris S) is one of a number of interesting runners that did not take on the Satsuki Sho. Shonan Lagoon tallied his first win in his second start in a 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) race at Nakayama. After disappointed run, his next three starts saw him just miss the winner's circle, but in the TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho (Jpn-II), run under the same conditions as the Derby, Shonan Lagoon took advantage of a slow pace and hung out in the back keeping something in reserve before he shot ahead to beat the odds as 10th pick and top the field in winning his ticket to the Derby.
Tosen Stardom (by Deep Impact ) swept his first three outings and won his ticket to the Satsuki Sho with his win of the Kisaragi Sho (Jpn-III). Third choice in the classic, he disappointed with a miserable 11th-place showing. Several factors may have figured in his loss. He was coming off a layoff of 2 1/2 months, it was his first trip to Kanto, the turf at Nakayama was badly torn, and the colt suddenly lost his balance coming out of the backstretch. Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee, watching from the stands, had been shocked at the change in the colt's rhythm but there was no indication of a physical problem after the race.
Hagino Hybrid (by Tanino Gimlet) comes off a win in the Kyoto Shimbun Hai (Jpn-III) and will attempt to emulate Agnes Flight (2000) won and Kizuna last year in using that race as a Derby prep. Hagino Hybrid hails from the stable of two-time Derby trainer Kunihide Matsuda. A bit of a late bloomer, it took this son of 2002 Derby winner Tanino Gimlet, who was also trained by Matsuda, four races before he could bag his first win, then he remained winless over his next three outings. Ace Craig Williams is expected to have the ride.
World Impact (by Deep Impact ) followed Shonan Lagoon over the line by a head in the Aoba Sho as the favorite. Though the Yasuo Tomomichi-trained colt has yet to claim a major race, he has, in his six starts thus far, won twice and ran second four times, three of those times only a neck or head behind the winner. In the race prior to the Aoba Sho, World Impact won the 2,200-meter (about 1 3/8 miles) Okanzakura Sho at Chukyo beating runner-up Hagino Hybrid by 1 1/4 lengths.
Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby), 3YO, 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Sounds of Earth, Suguru Hamanaka, Kenichi Fujioka
2. One and Only, Norihiro Yokoyama, Kojiro Hashiguchi
3. Meiner Frost, Masami Matsuoka, Noboru Takagi
4. Admire Deus, Yasunari Iwata, Mitsuru Hashida
5. To the World, Yuga Kawada, Yasutoshi Ikee
6. Shonan Lagoon, Yutaka Yoshida, Yokichi Okubo
7. Win Full Bloom--SCRATCHED
8. Suzuka Devious, Manabu Sakai, Mitsuru Hashida
9. Azuma Shuttle, Kohei Matsuyama, Tadashi Kayo
10. Bell Canyon, Keita Tosaki, Noriyuki Hori
11. Hagino Hybrid, Craig Williams, Kunihide Matsuda
12. Ekimae, Teruo Eda, Tadashige Nakagawa
13. Isla Bonita, Masayoshi Ebina, Hironori Kurita
14. Tagano Grandpa, Yuji Hishida, Hiroyoshi Matsuda
15. Satono Lupin, Futoshi Komaki, Akira Murayama
16. *Red Reveur, Yuichi Fukunaga, Naosuke Sugai
17. Tosen Stardom, Yutaka Take, Yasutoshi Ikee
18. World Impact, Hiroyuki Uchida, Yasuo Tomomichi
All to carry 125 pounds.
* Filly to carry 121 pounds.