Race favorite Kizuna closed relentlessly from behind and snatched victory from Epiphaneia near the finish line in the $5.2 million Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I), or Japanese Derby, May 26 at Tokyo.
The Deep Impact colt won by a half-length as the 5-2 favorite and gave jockey Yutake Take a record fifth win in the second jewel in Japan's Triple Crown. Kizuna covered 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) in 2:24.30.
Kizuna did not compete in the first jewe—the Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas April 14. The race was won in record time by last season's champion 2-year-old male Logotype, who could only muster fifth in the Derby as the 3-1 second favorite.
Kizuna's connections bypassed the Guineas in favor of Kyoto Shimbun Hai (Jpn-II) May 5 with their sights set on the Derby. He defeated Peptide Amazon by 1 1/2 lengths in that race and was razor sharp for classic glory.
As front-runners Apollo Sonic and Meikei Pega Star battled in early stretch, Epiphaneia angled to the outside and rallied powerfully to take control just past the 100-meter mark. But Kizuna, out even wider, uncorked a furious charge and caught him in the final three strides for the victory.
Apollo Sonic, a New York-bred Big Brown colt, repelled a fierce rally from Peptide Amazon and Logotype to hang on to third in a photo finish, another 1 1/4 lengths back. Peptide Amazon, at 109-1 odds, nipped Logotype by a nose for fourth.
Trained by Shozo Sasaki for owner Shinji Maeda, Kizuna landed a third consecutive group race with his Derby victory. In his start prior to the Kyoto Shimbun Hai, he won his group stakes debut by three lengths in the Mainichi Hai (Jpn-III) March 23 at Hanshin. Overall, he has five wins and a third from seven career starts.
Kizuna is from the third crop of 2005 Japanese Derby winner and Shadai Stallion Station resident Deep Impact, Japan's current leading sire. The Derby victory marks the second straight win in the race by offspring of the 11-year-old son of Sunday Silence following Deep Brillante in 2012. He also is the sire of last year's Japan Filly Triple Crown winner Gentildonna.
Bred by North Hills Co., Kizuna is out of the Storm Cat mare Catequil and is a half brother to Japanese dual classic winner and champion Phalaenopsis as well as U.S. grade II winner Sunday Break, who finished third in the 2002 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The family includes Japanese Horses of the Year, classic winners, and sires Narita Brian and Biwa Hayahide.