05/26/2011 3:16PM

Japanese Derby: Orfevre likely to be favored in field of 18


Orfevre, the winner of the Japanese 2000 Guineas earlier this spring, is expected to be favored in Sunday’s $3.6 million Japanese Derby at Tokyo Racecourse, a race with a European flavor with the presence of jockey Frankie Dettori on top contender Debonair.

Dettori was granted a short-term jockey’s license by the Japanese Racing Association earlier this week, allowing him to ride Debonair for owner Sheikh Mohammed. A Japanese-bred, Debonair is trained in Japan by Kazuya Nakatake and has one victory in seven starts. Debonair finished fourth in the Japanese 2000 Guineas after a poor start.

Orfevre won the Japanese 2000 Guineas by three lengths at Tokyo on April 24, his second consecutive stakes win. By Stay Gold, Orfevre will be ridden by regular rider Kerichi Ikezoe in the Japanese Derby which is run over about 1 1-2 miles on turf.

“It’s definitely reassuring that he’s won at the same course,” Ikezoe said in a Japanese Racing Association press release earlier this week. “The distance shouldn’t be an issue given his bloodlines, but I’ve got to make sure he settles.”

The field of 18 also includes Sadamu Patek, second in the 2000 Guineas, but does not include Danon Ballade, who was third in the 2000 Guineas but has been withdrawn from the Japanese Derby because of an injury.