Lani breezes five furlongs for Belmont Stakes
Edited Press Release
Koji Maeda's Japanese import Lani turned in a characteristically lengthy breeze early Wednesday morning over Belmont Park’s fast main track, his penultimate work for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 11.
After walking a lap around the 1 1/2-mile oval, the Kentucky-bred colt galloped into the far turn and picked up speed before the seven-eighths pole. Under exercise rider Eishu Maruucha, Lani gained momentum nearing the five-eighths pole, breezing fractions of :12 3/5, :25 and :37 for the opening three furlongs, according to NYRA clockers.
The gray son of Tapit earned an official time of 1:02.09 for five furlongs and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 4/5.
Lani, who regularly makes several laps around the track as part of his routine exercise regimen, wrapped up his training with another leisurely stroll over Big Sandy before heading back to his barn.
"It was quite a nice work," said Keita Tanaka, the agent representing Maeda and Japan-based trainer Mikio Matsunaga.
U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) winner Lani, who will join Exaggerator as the only two Belmont runners to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fifth in the Preakness S. (G1), a record that has done nothing to faze his connections.
"Before the Preakness, (he was training) quite good, so I wouldn't say (there has been) a dramatic improvement since then," Tanaka said. "But it looks like, at least, that he's keeping his very good condition before the Preakness up to now.
"We have been looking forward to this race of these three races. This race might be the most credible for him," he added, citing the Belmont's distance, field size and milder pace as encouraging factors for the colt.
According to Tanaka, Matsunaga will be on hand for the colt's final breeze before the Belmont next Wednesday while jockey Yutaka Take will arrive in New York Wednesday or Thursday but is not scheduled to be aboard for the work.
Lani photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography