Dettori, Dieu Du Vin win Japan's first Kentucky Derby prep

November 23, 2019 09:35am

Aboard Dieu Du Vin, jockey Frankie Dettori closed Saturday in the slop to claim the first leg of Japan’s Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

The famed European rider Dettori navigated the Declaration of War colt to the lead late in Tokyo Racecourse’s Cattleya Sho, which awards qualifying points to next year’s race at Churchill Downs on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Top 4 finishers.

Dieu Du Vin, who’s out of the Tapit mare, improved his record to 2-for-2 — both wins at a mile, in 16-horse fields — by finishing up in 1:36.2. It was just 3/4 of a length back to Shonan Mario at the wire, but Dettori had his mount in a hand ride.

Yukihiro Kat trains Dieu Du Vin, who’s campaigned by Three H Racing Co. The winner was off as a 5-2 favorite.

Dettori sat ninth in a well-spread field after the opening quarter mile went in 22.8 seconds, then began advancing into the turn. A snappy half mile in 46.3 seconds collapsed the pace, opening up opportunity for Dieu Du Vin as he traveled down the center of the stretch.

In a video with World Horse Racing, Dettori said Dieu Du Vin "had a lot of traffic in front of him, and in fairness for a young horse, he did really well to get out once he got clean air. He showed a good turn of foot. He's still got a lot to learn, but he's a lot of potential at the moment, and he can go places.

"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."

Behind runner-up Shonan Mario, Daimei Corrida was third and Auror Tesoro fourth.

First staged in 2017, Japan’s Derby trail continues Dec. 18 with Kawasaki Racecourse’s Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (20-8-4-2 points). Other events in the series are Tokyo’s Hyacinth (30-12-6-3) and Nakayama Racecourse’s Fukuryu (40-16-8-4) run on dates to be announced in 2020.

Three Japanese horses have run in the Kentucky Derby, including Master Fencer, who was placed sixth in 2019 after a strong rally at Churchill. Ski Captain (14th, 1995) and Lani (ninth, 2016) preceded him.

Appearances by Dettori in the Derby are even more rare. His only mount thus far was aboard sixth-place finisher China Visit in 2000. Typically, there are important mounts back home to ride on the first Saturday in May.


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