Kentucky Derby Next For Japanese Star

Derma Sotogake put down a shot at the Kentucky Derby as he took every step of the UAE Derby in a 1900 meter competition dominated by Japanese horses.

Trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, owned by Hiroyuki Asanuma and ridden with the utmost confidence by Christophe Lemaire, the chestnut won undisputedly by five and a half lengths ahead of Dura Erede.

Japanese runners filled the four spots with another four lengths back to Continuar in third and three and a half more back to Perriere in fourth.

However, Derma Sotogake was truly impressed, moving over a mile away from his third-place finish in the Saudi derby last month as he finished third-place that has never been closer.

Trainer Otonashi confirmed that Derma Sotogake would indeed be traveling direct from Dubai to Kentucky to compete in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Christophe Lemaire leads Derma Sotogake to an easy win (Image – Chase Liebenberg)

He said: “It’s my first time here and Derma Sotogake is my first runner ever. Now I have a runner and a winner – it doesn’t get any better than that!

“We didn’t really plan on going straight into the lead, but he broke off well. We expected him to improve and do well, but you can never expect things to go that well. We had a different jockey and a different floor so you can never be sure how well it will work, but it worked.

“He will go straight from Dubai to Kentucky. We’ll talk about it, but Christophe will probably keep it – he said so anyway!”

Jockey Lemaire added: “He’s a little slow to brake so it was important he got off to a good start using his gate on the track and that’s exactly what he did. He traveled well on the lead and relaxed for me on the back stretch. He was still moving smoothly for me when we got into the home straight and when I pushed the button he was very impressive and I was able to enjoy the finish on him.

“I hope he goes to America and I would love to ride him there. How could anyone refuse that?”

Dura Erede (2nd), jockey Cristian Demuro said: “He ran very well and was beaten by a very, very good horse. His last two runs have been on turf, but before that he seemed to be able to handle the dirt. I’ve never ridden him, but the dirt didn’t seem to bother him at all.”

Perriere (4th), jockey Oisin Murphy said: “Distance was the problem. I wish I was sitting where Ryan was and just following the winner. I didn’t want to use up his energy too early and leave nothing for the goal.”

Go Soldier Go (5th), jockey Adrie de Vries said: “He always needs time to get going and we came back a bit far. I had to get him off the kickback before we could start running. Many horses stopped in the dirt and I had to dodge very far. He rode his race and beat the same horses as last time.”

Es-Unico (7th), coach Antonio Cintra said: “Joao Moreira said he just doesn’t have the same strength as before. That’s it.”

Lahresh (8th), jockey Mickael Barzalona said: “He was coming out of the gates slowly.”

Cairo (10th), jockey Ryan Moore said: “It was his first run on dirt and he just wasn’t having fun.”

Worcester (11th), jockey Frankie Dettori said: “I screwed up the start and struggled from there.”

Ah Jeez (13th), jockey Tyler Gaffalione said: “I got him into a good rhythm but he faced the dirt [kickback] first time and didn’t like it.”

Winning time: 01:55.81 (race record 01:55.19).

Watch the replay:

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