05/28/2017 2:10PM

Rey de Oro rebounds to win Japanese Derby

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Rey de Oro rebounded from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Japanese 2000 Guineas in April to win the first Grade 1 race of his career in Sunday’s $3,881,052 Japanese Derby at Tokyo Racecourse.

Rey de Oro was ridden by Christophe Lemaire for trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. They combined to win the Grade 1 Japanese Oaks on May 21 with Soul Stirring.

Rey de Oro (4-1) raced at the back of the field of 18 for the first half-mile before Lemaire urged him into contention, taking the lead on the backstretch.

“We had no specific tactic, but we were forced to travel toward the rear after a slow start,” Lemaire told Japan Racing Association publicity. “The pace was slow, so I decided to move forward (on) the backstretch. He was very relaxed and was responding well in the homestretch.”

Rey de Oro finished three-quarters of a length in front of 9-2 Suave Richard, who was 1 1/4 lengths in front of 2-1 favorite Admirable.

Rey de Oro ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:26.90.

Al Ain, the winner of the 2000 Guineas, finished fifth. Admirable had won his three previous starts, including the Grade 2 Hai Aobo Sho at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Tokyo on April 29.

Rey de Oro, by King Kamehameha, has won 4 of 5 starts. He was unbeaten in three races last year, ending the season with a victory in the Grade 2 Hopeful Stakes last December. The 2000 Guineas was his first start of 2017.

The race drew an ontrack crowd of 123,779.  According to JRA statistics, handle on the Japanese Derby was approximately $224,411,109 and handle on the 12-race card was $353,043,534.