Lani breezes five furlongs at Belmont
Japanese invader Lani took his time out at the Belmont Park main track Wednesday morning, turning in his final breeze ahead of the Preakness (G1) on Saturday.
Lani, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and is expected to return from Pimlico to prepare for a start in the Belmont S. (G1), walked a lap around the 1 1/2-mile oval before jogging up to the five-eighths pole. Commencing his breeze, the gray son of Tapit worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15, according to Belmont clockers.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga arrived in New York on Tuesday to be on hand for the breeze.
"He stretched out well. It was exactly the way we wanted. I'm quite happy," said Matsunaga through his interpreter and agent Keita Tanaka.
Lani completed the final three furlongs in :35 2/5 despite not changing leads until late in the stretch, a quirk Matsunaga says is characteristic of his charge, adding that in an ideal situation he would've preferred to work the UAE Derby (G2) winner in company.
"He's not the best switching leads, but in the straight, it was ok," he said. "We don't have a breeze partner. If he had one here, it would be best, but in this situation, I understand it's difficult to do that. Going by himself, this is the best we could have wanted."
Lani, who is expected to travel by van to Pimlico on Thursday, has shown far fewer of his infamous pre-Derby shenanigans since arriving in New York more than a week ago.
"He likes the barn and the track since arriving here, so the training is on plan," Matsunaga said. "He's been better behaved since he's been here."