05/29/2016 4:30PM

Makahiki turns tables on Satona Diamond in Japanese Derby


Makahiki avenged a loss in the Japanese 2000 Guineas in April with a nose victory over Satona Diamond in Sunday’s $3.9 million Japanese Derby at Tokyo Racecourse.

Makahiki (3-1) rallied six wide in the stretch and was fully extended to hold off Satona Diamond, a 7-2 shot who was third in the Japanese 2000 Guineas. Dee Majesty, the winner of the 2000 Guineas, finished third as the 5-2 favorite.

Dee Majesty was beaten a half-length, missing a chance to become the 24th horse in history to win the Japanese 2000 Guineas and Japanese Derby.

Makahiki was ridden by Yuga Kawada for trainer Yasuo Tomomichi. Kawada had Makahiki on the rail for the first mile, racing about seventh in a field of 18. Kawada guided his mount off the inside entering the stretch. Makahiki closed well between runners to take the lead in the final furlong.

“The colt broke smoothly and I was able to race him in good position as planned,” Kawada said. “I gradually advanced him while marking Satono Diamond.”

Kawada said Makahiki quickened “really well after threading through a small opening.”

Makahiki ran 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:24. The colt, by Deep Impact, has won 4 of 5 starts for owner Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co.

Makahiki won his first three starts before the loss in the Japanese 2000 Guineas. The colt is out of the French Deputy mare Wikiwiki, a maiden race winner in Japan in 2007.

The Japanese 2000 Guineas and Japanese Derby are the first two legs of the Japanese Triple Crown. The third race in the series, the St. Leger Stakes, will be run at Kyoto Racecourse on Oct. 23.

The Japanese Derby drew a crowd of 139,140. Handle for the race was $241.1 million, while handle for the 12-race program was $372.2 million.