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Racing fans will be seeking out television sets Sunday and packing the stands at Kyoto Racecourse for the highly anticipated running of the 64th Kikkasho.

This year sees the first triple crown bid since 1994 as Neo Universe goes for three in the marathon 3,000-meter classic. The rivalry is intense, with a trio of colts in the all-male field of 18 capturing the most action at betting windows.

Neo Universe (No. 17) is emerging as the favorite, followed by Derby runnerup Zenno Rob Roy (No. 4) and Satsukisho runnerup Sakura President (No. 10). All three colts are sired by the late Sunday Silence, who posthumously boasts six runners in the Kikkasho, Japan’s equivalent of the St. Leger’s. French ace Olivier Peslier will take the reins of Zenno Rob Roy with Japan’s top jock Yutaka Take aboard Sakura President.

Italian jockey Mirco Demuro, who rode the Shadai-owned Neo Universe for both his winning runs in the Satsukisho and the Nippon Derby, was initially not eligible to ride in the Kikkasho due to licensing restrictions.

The Japan Racing Association, however, managed to create a specially tailored new regulation that would give Demuro, who had been handpicked by Shadai, Japan’s biggest breeder, the ride today at Kyoto. The Kikkasho is the 11th on the card at Kyoto. Post time is 3:40 p.m.

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