05/26/2005 11:00PM

Deep Impact has the stuff to take Japanese Derby

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Deep Impact will be all the rage at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday when he starts as a short-priced favorite in the $3.17 million Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby.

An undefeated son of Sunday Silence, Deep Impact confirmed his class with an impressive 2 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/4-mile Japanese 2000 Guineas at Nakayama on April 17. The Derby's 1 1/2 miles should not pose a problem for Deep Impact, who will be ridden by Japanese ace Yutaka Take for trainer Yasuo Ikee.

With local pundits already comparing Deep Impact to the best Japanese horses of the last quarter-century, his 17 rivals would appear to be in the race for second. The Japanese 2000 Guineas runner-up, Six Sense, and Dantsu Kitcho, winner of the Grade 2 Aoba Sho over the Derby course and distance on April 30, must be considered, however, as should Brave Heart, who was a half-length third in the Aoba Sho.

Vengeance of Rain looks tough

Vengeance of Rain, a talented New Zealand-bred son of Zabeel, will be equally difficult to beat at Sha Tin, where he goes in the Group 1 Hong Kong Champions and Chater Cup, a 1 1/2-mile contest worth $1.028 million. Trained by David Ferraris, Vengeance of Rain took the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Derby on March 13, but was most impressive on April 24 landing the 1 1/4-mile Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the expense of international Group 1 winners Phoenix Reach, Epalo, and Elvstroem.

Saturn, recent winner of the 1 1/2-mile Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup, has the best chance for an upset.