Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Dieu du Vin returns in Japanese prep

February 19, 2020 10:09am
Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Dieu du Vin returns in Japanese prep
Photo: Yuki Shimono

The same Japanese prep won by Master Fencer a season ago could add to the list of serious 2020 Kentucky Derby contenders, too.

Tokyo Racecourse’s Hyacinth, the third of four legs on Japan’s Derby trail, on Saturday welcomes back high-profile colt Dieu du Vin, who won the Nov. 23 Cattleya Sho, the series’ first stop.

The Yukihiro Kato-trained son of Declaration of War still sits second on the Japan leaderboard with his 10 points, trailing only the Dec. 18 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun hero Vacation’s 20. Vacation is not listed as a possibility for Saturday’s race.

The Hyacinth offers 30 qualifying points to its winner and Dieu du Vin the opportunity to take the points lead back with one more event on the calendar, the March 28 Fukuryu at Nakayama Racecourse. That event awards 40 points to the winner.

From there, Churchill Downs will extend an invitation based on the points list — earnings break any ties — and attempt to find mutual interest between a Japanese runner and connections.

That appears to exist for Dieu du Vin, who’s 2-for-2 He appears poised to run in both the final Japanese points preps after topping a 16-horse Cattleya Sho, rallying down the center of the track for a 3/4-length victory.

Jockey Frankie Dettori said after the race that, "He's got a lot of raw talent, but they have suggested he's going to run at least three times. You have to be very well-seasoned to go to Kentucky. He's a work in progress at the moment, but every sign is good.”

Dieu du Vin is the first foal out of Tapit mare Jealous Cat, a sibling of the 2013 Florida Oaks (G3) winner Tapitcat. He could have as many as 15 rivals in the Hyacinth, including two sons of the Triple crown winner American Pharoah.

Nile River, bought for $775,000 at an American auction of 2-year-olds, won his Nov. 9 debut. Cafe Pharoah, a $475,000 purchase as a juvenile, also won his only prior start on Dec. 14 by open lengths.

Three horses based in Japan have tried the Kentucky Derby: Ski Captain (14th in 1995), Lani (ninth in 2016) and Master Fencer, also the first bred in Japan (sixth in 2019).

Churchill Downs has a similar separate points series for European horses. Depending on whether foreign runners accept invitations, the threshold for points earners in the domestic prep series will increase.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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