Heavy favorite Contrail claimed this year's Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and unbeaten in five starts since his debut as a two-year-old. The 2019 Best Two-Year-Old Colt and Hopeful Stakes (2,000m) winner last season who also won the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, 2,000m) became the seventh horse in JRA history to win the first two Triple Crown titles unbeaten, and the first in 15 years after his sire, Deep Impact. His trainer, Yoshito Yahagi, who won his second Derby title after Deep Brillante in 2012 and 12th JRA-G1 victory overall, announced his next target to be for the Contrail to run in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m), held in October, in the hope of making the Deep Impact colt the eighth Triple Crown winner in JRA history. For jockey Yuichi Fukunaga, now with 27 career JRA-G1 titles, it was also the second Derby victory after with Wagnerian in 2018.
Contrail broke sharply and was in hand along the rails around third or fourth in the early stages behind Win Carnelian, who rushed from the outside to take the lead and then allowed to set a slow pace for the first half of the race. The pace increased after the 1,200-meter pole, where My Rhapsody came from way back along the backstretch to take over the lead, and Yuichi Fukunaga let the colt run with the flow and then asked him to explode into gear after securing a clear path along the center lane to which Contrail demonstrated his power to pull away easily to a three-length victory.
"I was just focusing on finishing this race on a high note and although he still has room for improvement—he tends to lose his focus when he's leading—he still is able to win like he did today, so he's got great potential and there's a lot to look forward to in this colt. The pace was not really flowing in the first half but I sort of expected Nori-san (Norihiro Yokoyama on My Rhapsody) to make a move like that and it opened up the path for me to reach the horse in front (second position) which was critical," commented Yuichi Fukunaga.
Salios was reserved in mid-pack early but had to angle out as the field was bunched behind a slow pace and had to cover much ground, having to make a wide trip along the last two corners and still way out entering the stretch. The Heart's Cry colt who had given Contrail a tough race last outing was unable to threaten the winner this time but still turned in a terrific stretch run to best the rest of the field.
Weltreisende broke from stall six, just outside the eventual winner and kept close to that rival throughout the whole trip until the winner drew away in the last 100 meters with Salios who came storming up on his outside.
Other Horses :
4th: (1) Satono Impresa - raced around 11th, met traffic at early stretch, quickened between horses in last 300m
5th: (13) Deep Bond - tracked leaders around 3rd, ran willingly, weakened in last 100m
6th: (11) Galore Creek - traveled 3-wide around 6th, passed tired rivals at stretch
7th: (7) Black Hole - hugged rails around 14th, angled out at early stretch, showed belated charge
8th: (3) Wakea - raced around 8th, responded well behind winner at early stretch, even paced in last 200m
9th: (14) My Rhapsody - positioned in 17th early, made headway to lead in backstretch, used up 100m out
10th: (8) Bitterender - traveled around 11th, lacked needed kick at stretch
11th: (15) Satono Flag - sat around 15th, struggled to find clear path at early stretch, accelerated in last 200m
12th: (10) Cortesia - chased pace in 2nd, showed tenacity until 150m out, weakened thereafter
13th: (9) Darlington Hall - settled 3-wide around 13th, showed effort until 100m out
14th: (17) Valcos - ran 4-wide around 6th, turned for home in good striking position, gradually dropped back
15th: (4) L'Excellence - saved ground around 15th, switched to outside at early stretch, never threatened
16th: (16) Man of Spirit - was off slow, trailed in rear, showed little at stretch
17th: (18) Win Carnelian - set pace until 1,200m to go, ran gamely until 300m out, fell back
18th: (2) Al Jannah - took economic trip around 8th, faded after 300m out