"He's unbelievable. If he did any more he'd be flying."It was the first win of the Derby for Tsutomu Setoguchi, a trainer for 29 years. Setoguchi said he'd given no instructions to Demuro prior to the race, but admitted, "I was a bit worried at first when I saw him staying on the inside like that." As the horses neared the finish, however, Setoguchi thought he just might have the win. "I was yelling and pounding my fist on the table next to me," a virtually glowing 67-year-old told the press after the race.
Setoguchi says he plans to give Neo Universe a rest until the fall, when he will race the colt once before the Triple Crown third leg, the Kikkasho, in late October.Derby weekend at Tokyo far more resembled the weekend of the Japan Cup as Tokyo fans were treated to riding by top jocks from three continents; Damien Oliver from Australia, Demuro from Italy, and Kent Desormeaux from the U.S.
Desormeaux, who has notched 12 wins since the start of his riding stint here this year, rode to a Derby fifth-place finish aboard Zenno Django, one of three colts fielded by leading trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. Zenno Rob Roy gave Fujisawa, who has yet to bag a Derby, the runner-up in the Derby for the second year in a row.
Neo Universe's winning time over 2,400 meters of heavy turf was 2:28.5. The colt was bred at Shadai Farm in Hokkaido and is owned by Shadai Race Horse.His win of the Derby improved his record to six wins in seven starts and, with the Derby's ¥150 million winner's share, raised his accumulated earnings to more than ¥440 million.
The one foreign-bred colt (only two are permitted to run in the Nippon Derby) in the Derby lineup, Eishin Champ (Mi Cielo--Eishin Michigan, by Manila) finished 10th.