Third Time the Charm for Tanino Gimlet in Nippon Derby

The third time proved lucky, and, at last unencumbered by traffic jams, Tanino Gimlet, got the chance to show his stuff--winning stuff--May 26 at Tokyo Racecourse. The Brian's Time colt swooped down the stretch under star jockey Yutaka Take for a length win of the Nippon Derby (Jpn-I), the second jewel in Japan's Triple Crown.

Taking the lead with but four strides to go, Tanino Gimlet snatched the win from American-bred Symboli Kris S., who, in a driving finish, just nudged stablemate Machikane Akatsuki, with Kent Desormeaux up, by a head for third.

After being blocked and jostled his last two times out, in the Satsukisho and NHK Mile, Take this time took the once-again race favorite around on an ultra-safe course, holding back five lengths from the rear of the field of 18 until the last moment. At the top of the stretch, Take brought Tanino Gimlet out sharply to the better ground, and, with an all-clear ahead, signaled his mount to move into top gear. Tanino Gimlet clocked :34.7 over the final three furlongs, and covered the race's 1 1/2 miles of turf in 2:26.2.

The crowd of over 128,000, which included Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi--Japan's first incumbent head of state in 44 years to attend the race--immediately took up a chant of "Yu-ta-ka, Yu-ta-ka!" for the winning jockey, who became the first Japanese rider to win three Derbys. "He gets stronger every time I ride him," Take said of Tanino Gimlet. "I think he's going to get even stronger, and I'm looking forward to it."

"My father would turn over in his grave if he could see me now," said Tanimizu, 62, the current chairman of the Japan Owners Association, with a chuckle. The elder Tanimizu, Nobuo had established Country Bokujo in Shizunai, Hokkaido, where Tanino Gimlet was bred. It was the third win of the classic for the Tanimizu family, which has fielded 13 Derby runners. It was their first win in 32 years.

Trainer Kunihide Matsuda said he plans to send Tanino Gimlet off to Hokkaido for rest until fall, when Matsuda said he is likely to aim the Derby winner for the Japan Cup.

Tanino Gimlet (Brian's Time--Tanino Crystal, by Crystal Palace) is now five for eight with close to ¥400 million yen in prize money.