Lani readying for return trip to Japan

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TwinSpires Staff

June 12th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Initially arriving in America on April 1 and having competed in every leg of the Triple Crown ending with Saturday’s third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1), Japanese import Lani entered Belmont Park's quarantine barn Sunday morning to begin preparations for his return journey home on June 19.

Training at Belmont since his ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and shipping to Pimlico Race Course, where he finished fifth in the Preakness Stakes (G1), Lani's team was proud of the colt's overall efforts in the United States and were looking forward to returning to America with future prospects according to Kieta Tanaka, agent for owner Koji Maeda.

"He came out of the race well," Tanaka said. "We thought he ran a good race and improved along the way, especially here in New York. He really took a liking to the track."

Experiencing the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival first-hand, Tanaka said that Lani's entourage enjoyed the day's card and added that the group would love to come back with more runners in the future.

"I like New York racing," Tanaka added. "The experience was great, and everyone was friendly. We will definitely look forward to returning in the future with more horses."

Lani finished 2 1/2 lengths up on Governor Malibu, who found himself blocked in the Belmont due to his inside trip.

Trainer Christophe Clement acknowledged the difficult trip his Malibu Moon colt encountered racing along the rail the majority of the way, but remained pleased with his ability to be competitive in graded stakes-level competition.

"So far, so good," Clement stated. "I thought he ran a really good race. I will call it no racing luck from the quarter-pole on. The pacemaker (Gettysburg) was all over the place. (Jockey Joel) Rosario had to check twice but he ran a really strong race and showed that he really belongs with them."

Suddenbreakingnews has exited his ninth-place finish in the Belmont in good order, according to the Donnie K. Von Hemel barn on Sunday morning.

Brandon Velarde, Von Hemel's Remington Park-based exercise rider who has been on hand since the Mineshaft ridgling arrived at Belmont Park last Tuesday, reported that the Grade 3 winner is no worse for the wear and will fly back to Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon.

The second wagering choice in the Belmont at 5-1, Suddenbreakingnews, who finished a fast-closing fifth in the Kentucky Derby last out, raced wide before fading in the stretch to finish 9 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Creator. The duo also met up in the Arkansas Derby (G1), with Creator getting that win by 2 1/4 lengths over Suddenbreakingnews in second.

"It's a deep track,” Velarde said. “Maybe 'Big Sandy' got to him a little bit, but he's shown before that he's that caliber horse and we live to fight another day."

All-sources handle on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park, which saw Creator win the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes, was $99,419,023.

On-track wagering was $11,694,847, with off-track betting totaling $87,724,126. Total handle on the Belmont Stakes itself was $52,188,416.

Paid attendance was 60,114.

In 2013, which was the last time the Belmont Stakes was contested without at Triple Crown on the line, all-sources handle was $88,528,542, with on-track wagering of $10,769,369 and off-track betting totaling $77,759,173. Total handle on the 2013 Belmont itself was $51,872,013.

Last year, during American Pharoah's Triple Crown-winning Belmont Stakes, saw all-sources handle of $135,790,321 on the day, with on-track wagering of $16,950,758 and off-track betting totaling $118,839,563. Wagering on the 2015 Belmont Stakes itself was $82,437,629.

The 148th running of the “Test of the Champion,” at 1 1/2 miles the last and longest leg of racing's Triple Crown, put an exclamation point on the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, a three-day celebration serving up 19 stakes, 11 of them graded including six Grade 1 events, worth $9.6 million in purses.

Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz Jr. and Godolphin Racing took top honors in the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Championship for best overall performance by a trainer, jockey and owner, respectively, during the three-day event at Belmont Park.

The category for the "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons Award for Outstanding Trainer saw Brown, NYRA's top conditioner of 2015, atop the leaderboard with 24 points. Among Brown's major victories over the three-day span were Flintshire's win in the Manhattan (G1), Economic Model's win in the Easy Goer Stakes, Zindaya's triumph in the Intercontinental Stakes and a 1-2-3 finish in the New York Stakes (G2) with Dacita, Sea Calisi and Guapaza.

Capped by his outstanding ride aboard Creator in the Belmont Stakes, Ortiz again took top honors among jockeys with 35 points to win his second Eddie Arcaro Award. Ortiz Jr. also was aboard Kareena for her victory in the Jersey Girl Stakes and piloted Dacita to win the New York.

Earning the August Belmont II trophy was Godolphin Racing with 14 points, highlighted by Frosted's runaway victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Kareena's win in the Jersey Girl.

Lani photo courtesy of Harold Roth/