TOKYO - Duramente stormed to a record-breaking victory in the Japanese Derby on Sunday but the impressive colt may forego the chance of completing a rare triple crown in the pursuit of major European honours later this season.
Ridden by two-time derby winner Mirco Demuro of Italy, Duramente completed the 2,400-metre race in two minutes, 23.2 seconds to slice a tenth of a second off the previous mark held by Deep Impact and his own sire King Kamehameha.
The winner finished almost two lengths clear of Santono Rasen, who just edged out Santono Crown, to add the derby to his Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) triumph from last month and remain on course for a feat only completed by seven other horses.
Roared on by a crowd of more than 116,000 on a baking afternoon at Tokyo Racecourse, Duramente will need plenty of stamina to go with his speed if he wants to claim the final leg of the triple crown, the 3,000m Kikka-sho on Oct. 25 at Kyoto.
Demuro, who has been riding as a 'guest' until the Japan Racing Association issued him a full-time license this season, won the first two legs of the triple crown on Neo Universe in 2003 and would love to complete the feat this time.
"I'm very happy I won," said Demuro, who has won 12 Group One races in Japan. "In 2003, I was still a 'foreigner' so to speak. To win the derby as a JRA jockey is a brilliant feeling.
"I've always said he's an incredibly fast horse. He is so strong."
Orfevre was the last horse to complete the triple crown four years ago and while Duramente has a chance of emulating that feat, his owner is looking at entering the horse in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France, which is held earlier in October.
The Arc could be a more attractive proposition than the Japanese St Leger as it offers attractive low weights for three-year-olds with Demuro also raising slight concerns over Duramante's ability to compete over a longer distance.
"I want to win it because no Japanese horse has ever done it," Demuro said of the 2,400m race at Longchamp.
"He's got a chance.
"The 3,000 meters could be long for him, but it's hard to tell. The owner and trainer will make that call."