2024 Tokyo Yushun: Group 1 Review

Venue: Tokyo Racecourse
Distance: 2400m
Value: ¥ 648,000,000 (about US$4,596,000) 

The race-eve scratching of the Satsuki Sho tearway leader Meisho Tabaru due to a stone bruise left the 91st Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) without an obvious pace influence.

While many jockeys surrendered position at the start, and others simply didn’t have the speed to gain an on-pace position, an aggressive play from the jump by Norihiro Yokoyama to find the rail on Danon Decile proved decisive.

From barrier five, Danon Decile was box-seating before the first turn and Yokoyama had the benefit of watching a race evolve around him.

Favourite Justin Milano was about the worst away, jumping awkwardly before Keita Tosaki hunted forward to seek a spot close to the speed.

What unfolded next was a rare occurrence in a JRA G1: some slow to middling sectionals through the first half of the race. Yasanuri Iwata stacked them up as leader Ecoro Walz cantered from the 2,000m to the 1,000m in 63.6s.

The leisurely tempo invited mid-race moves and as the pressure increased from the 1,000m mark, it was Danon Decile who had maintained a smooth rhythm on the rail and was best placed to take advantage upon turning. 

2024 Tokyo Yushun: Race Replay

DANON DECILE / G1 Tokyo Yushun // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Video by JRA

The Training Performance

For 41-year-old Shogo Yasuda, this win will prove a serious boost for an already promising career.

It wasn’t just that it was a Derby but it was the way he was able to do it off a seriously disrupted preparation. Danon Decile missed the Satsuki Sho after being adjudged lame behind the gates, but Yasuda was able to produce his horse first-up after four months in top shape. 

The Beaten Favourite

Excuses for the 2.2 favourite? Not really, but a sound effort nonetheless. Barrier 15 was already awkward but a bungled start left Tosaki scrambling. The margin of two lengths makes it hard to say Justin Milano would have won from a better gate, or with a clean start. One of those things was in his control anyway. Danon Decile was pulling away late and finished like the superior stayer.

Second favourite Regaleira might have been more worthy of forgiveness. Christophe Lemaire had the filly where he wanted from gate two, settling 10th, but as the pressure came on past halfway, he found himself shuffled back to 14th.

Regaleira rattled home for fifth in by far the fastest final 600m sectional (33.2s) of the race. She might be a backmarker that needs things to go her way, but look out when they do.


Epiphaneia was second to Kizuna in the 2013 Tokyo Yushun but he turned the tables here, as Kizuna’s five offspring in the race finished second, ninth, tenth, 12th and 15th. 

Epiphaneia wins the 2014 Japan Cup
EPIPHANEIA, CHRISTOPHE SOUMILLON / G1 Japan Cup // Tokyo /// 2014 //// Photo by Lo Chun Kit

The blowout result continued a golden run for a 14-year-old sire whose stocks appeared to be slowly slipping. Danon Decile’s Derby was a third G1 of the season for Epiphaneia after fillies Stellenbosch (Oka Sho) and Ten Happy Rose (Victoria Mile) logged feature wins.

What They Said

Norihiro Yokoyama: 

“I thought that the pace would be normal or slow since there were no horses that wanted to set the pace, but as Ecoro Walz took the front, we were able to wait in good position until the straight, and the horse responded strongly from there. I’m happy to have won the Derby but I’m also glad that my decision to not race him in the Satsuki Sho was not wrong. Danon Decile is a horse with great potential, and we knew that he would be a great horse if we took good care of him. I’m really grateful to the horse.”

Fact File

At 56 years, three months and four days old, Yokoyama became the oldest jockey to win the Derby and oldest to win a JRA G1 overall. It was Yokoyama’s third Derby win after victory on One and Only (2014) and Logi Universe (2009) and his 28th G1 in total. 

Norihiro Yokoyama celebrates after winning the Tokyo Yushun aboard Danon Decile
A flying Derby dismount from a jubilant Norihiro Yokoyama. Photo by Shuhei Okada

Best Of The Rest

Shin Emperor holds a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe entry and connections would be encouraged by the way the French-bred colt found the line.

Michael Cox is Editor of Idol Horse. A sports journalist with 19 years experience, Michael has a family background in harness racing in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region of Australia. Best known for writing on Hong Kong racing, Michael’s previous publications include South China Morning Post, The Age, Sun Herald, Australian Associated Press, Asian Racing Report and Illawarra Mercury.

View all articles by Michael Cox.

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