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Japan’s Lani Tries Again in Preakness 2016

Japan’s Lani Tries Again in Preakness 2016 by Reinier Macatangay: On the surface, throwing out the Mikio Matsunaga-trained Lani in the Preakness Stakes (GI) on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course seems easy. The son of Tapit finished a disappointing ninth in the Kentucky Derby (GI) at Churchill Downs, despite a pace setup which favored his style. In fairness, Lani also broke slowly in the race.

Preakness Stakess 2016

Lani, the son of Tapit, finished a disappointing ninth in the Kentucky Derby (GI) at Churchill Downs, despite a pace setup which favored his style. In fairness, Lani also broke slowly in the race. Photo: Coady Photography

Going back further, he defeated a suspect field in the UAE Derby (GII) back in March.

To pile on with additional negatives, Lani does not listen well in the mornings and acts studdish more than usual, both signs of a colt who lacks concentration on his job.

Well, Lani now tries the second leg of the Triple Crown, and a few positives exist. For one, he did place higher than half the Derby field, which sounds better than placing last and losing by an obscene amount of lengths. Then again, some horses finish runner-up or around there and never accomplish anything again (Commanding Curve).

As for the breaking-slow habit, the positive handicapper may buy his stock. After all, if Lani can break well, maybe the stubborn colt will show tactical speed and secure a decent position heading into the first turn.

Others point out Lani’s beautiful pedigree as another reason for liking him. His sire Tapit needs no introduction, as the son of Pulpit consistently ranks among the best American stallions out there.

Note the bottom half of Lani’s pedigree as well. His damsire Sunday Silence won the 1989 Preakness after a hard-fought battle with Easy Goer. A couple of fans want Lani to win because of the Sunday Silence connection.

Yes, a few positives show up, if one looks hard.

Oddly enough, Lani’s quirky habits make him a favorite among racing fans.

“You know how some eccentric shows have a cult following? That’s Lani,” racing fan Nini Rogerio explained.

Anyone can like Nyquist, who is undefeated and goes into the Preakness as the heavy betting favorite, or even Exaggerator, the Derby runner-up who puts in a good run often (only to come up short against Nyquist).

To follow a horse such as Lani, who comes from Japan and does things his own way, feels akin to picking the off-the-wall television show which traditionalists do not understand. The Lani club offers a sense of coolness and excitement, while Nyquist and Exaggerator are the staple weekly sitcoms which take the safe route.

Just look at all the awesome Photoshopped images of Lani with references to Japanese culture on the Twitter account derbydannyk. In one particular image, Lani races into Baltimore in order to fight the Chesapeake Bay Crab Monster! Yesterday, Lani also participated in the Preakness Toilet Run, an honorable tradition at Pimlico.

Oh sure, Nyquist pictures are on the account, but Lani’s Japan origin gives so much better material to work with.

Lani worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 at Belmont Park this morning, according to David Grening of Daily Racing Form. Yutaka Take will pilot the colt at Pimlico, and along with Matsunaga and owner Koji Maeda, this team will make history running the first Japan-based horse in the Preakness. If nothing else, the connections are fearless.

Still, Lani must progress in order to hit the board this week. Whether or not Lani wins though, the eccentric colt will continue to gallop into the hearts of racing fans everywhere searching for the “alternative” horse to rally behind.