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Yuichi Fukunaga steers Wagnerian to Japanese Derby victory

Kyodo

Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga picked up his first Japanese Derby victory Sunday when he steered fifth-pick Wagnerian to victory in the second leg of the Japanese triple crown for the colt’s first Grade One win.

Wagnerian started behind the pack of three-year-old colts led by Epoca d’Oro but made a final dash to cross the line first at Tokyo Racecourse in 2 minutes, 23.6 seconds.

Epoca d’Oro, who won last month’s Satsuki-sho, the first leg of the triple crown, was runner-up a half length behind, while Cosmic Force finished third a further neck back.

“I feel like I’m on air. I’ve never felt like this before,” said Fukunaga, who made his jockey debut in 1996. “There were times when I thought I would never win the Japanese Derby.”

Race-favorite Danon Premium finished sixth.