CONTESTED ON FAST GROUND over 1m4f at Tokyo, the Group 1 Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby, was an absolute belter with the previously unbeaten Efforia relinquishing his unblemished record, but only just, headed right on the line by Shahryar.
The hot favourite, already victorious imperiously in the Satsuki Sho, the local 2000 Guineas, had appeared likely to extend his winning sequence to five when dashing clear entering the final furlong under Takeshi Yokoyama, only to be snared in the final stride by Shahryar on whom Yuichi Fukunaga could not have timed his challenge any better.
In doing so, they lowered the race record time. Saddled by Hideaki Fujiwara for Sunday Racing, the 3yo Deep Impact colt, having just his fourth start, was third to Efforia in a Group Three on both their penultimate starts, the latter then landing his Classic victory with Shahryar winning next time, also in Group Three company, at Hanshin when he broke the 1m1f track record.
It was a fourth success in the race for the owners, a second for the trainer and third, all in four years, for Fukunaga who landed last year’s renewal aboard Contrail having also won the 2018 race on Wagnerian. “It’s so great to have again won the Derby which I had made it my target with this colt ever since his debut.
We were keeping an eye on the race favourite but the race didn’t go as smoothly as planned and we were in a tight spot so we were forced to make our charge late, but this colt really gave a terrific effort,” commented Fukunaga.