Continuar – Kentucky Derby Context

April 28th, 2023

An expected deep closer, Continuar will seek to improve upon a late-running third in the UAE Derby (G2) in late March. He’s experienced wide trips in both starts this year, checking in fifth in the Saudi Derby (G3) in late February, but the chestnut colt concluded his juvenile season with a pair of fine efforts in Japan, recording a nose second to Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Derma Sotogake in a November allowance and a half-length win in the Cattleya S. later that month.

Continuar earned his Kentucky Derby berth via the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and while it’s difficult to envision the long shot making a serious impact at Churchill Downs, his trainer has experience upsetting major Grade 1 dirt races in the United States.

Owner: Continuar will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.

Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi is perfect from a pair of North American starts, winning the 2021 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with Marche Lorraine and Loves Only You at Del Mar. Continuar will be the third representative for 62-year-old Yahagi, a three-time leading trainer in Japan.

Jockey: An up-and-coming jockey in Japan, Ryusei Sakai picked up the mount on Continuar earlier this year. The 25-year-old will make his first North American start in the Kentucky Derby.

Breeder/Sales: Bred in Japan by Lake Villa Farm, Continuar sold $635,432 as a yearling at the 2021 JRHA July sale.

Sire: Continuar is from the second crop of Drefong, who won all four starts in 2016—including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1)—on the way to being named champion male sprinter. By Gio Ponti out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Ghostzapper, Drefong never raced past seven furlongs in nine career starts, recording six wins and more than $1.5 million in earnings despite having a pedigree geared toward longer distances. He entered stud in Japan and was the champion freshman sire in 2021.

Dam: Continuar’s unraced dam, Japanese-bred Pan de Ring, is by Japanese champion and top sire King Kamehameha, and she hails from major race winner Fusaichi Pandora, a daughter of 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Sunday Silence. Pan de Ring is a three-quarter sister to two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye, who won the 2018 Japan Cup (G1) in record-setting time, and it’s a stamina-laced female family. These are the extended bloodlines of back-to-back Belmont (G1) winners Jazil and Rags to Riches (2006-07).