Yoko Maeda's Japan-based 3-year-old colt Lani has been nominated to the 2016 Triple Crown and will prep in the March 26 UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan, trainer Mikio Matsunaga announced Jan. 14.
Should Lani finish first or second in Dubai, Yahoo Japan reported, Matsunaga plans to enter the son of leading sire Tapit in the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The UAE Derby awards 100 points to the winner and 40 to the runner-up in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.
If Lani is excluded from the Kentucky Derby field, he will target the May 14 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) and June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the same two-race series attempted by Japanese colt Casino Drive in 2008.
Lani is a gray out of the Sunday Silence mare Heavenly Romance (Jpn), herself a winner of the 10-furlong Tenno Sho (Jpn-I) in 2005. Bred in Kentucky by North Hills Co. Limited, Lani was sent to Japan, where he won two of four starts as a juvenile. His most recent outing was a win in the Nov. 28 Cattleya Sho.