JRA Weekend Wrap: Jan. 30-31

TOKYO (TR) – Dance Director and Suguru Hamanaka got the fast race they wanted to win the Silk Road Stakes in 1:07.9 on Sunday at Kyoto Racecourse. The 6-year-old son of Aldebaran covered the last three furlongs in 33.3 to win by a length and a half and picked up 39.5 million yen for owner Suzuko Ota. (Video: Dance Director wins Silk Road Stakes at Kyoto on Jan. 31)

Dance Director stuck to the rail in the fourth and third position until passing fourth favorite Satono Lupin at the 200-meter pole and then chasing down pacesetter Laurel Veloce, who finished second.

Race favorite Big Arthur and Mirco Demuro posed little threat in the race, breaking from 16, running mid-pack and finishing fifth.

Dark horse Wakino Brave won the battle for third and bumped up the trifecta 1-8-7 payout to 161,190 yen. The win paid 440 yen.

With the second and third 200 meters under 11 seconds, the race was the fastest over the weekend in Japan Racing Association action. Seventh place finisher Hiruno Devaro’s speedy 32.6 last three furlongs puts the 5-year-old by Mahhattan Cafe in a fairly small club and on our watch list.

Moanin, the 4-year-old American bred colt by Henny Hughes, won the 1,400-meter Negishi Stakes G3 on Sunday at Kyoto Racecourse to bring his 6-race career record to five wins and one third place finish.

Keita Tosaki held Moanin 3-wide in the third position until he took the lead with about 300 meters left in the race. At the 200 meter pole sixth ranked USA bred Tahltan, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, and Grape Brandy, under Fabrice Veron, were bearing down hard, and the race was on, but the two 8-year-olds couldn’t catch Moanin who held on to win by a half a length and claim just over half of the 75.4-million-yen purse.

Grape Brandy, the 8-year-old G-race veteran who has seen better days, was the surprise third place finisher and a feather in jockey Fabrice Veron’s cap as they were expected to finish tenth. The win paid 220 yen, and the trifecta 15-8-2 paid 34,200 yen.

There was no joy in Japan on Saturday afternoon as the mighty polka-dotted Buchiko came in third on a muddy track at Kyoto Racecourse. King no Yoake took first place and the dreams of thousands of fans across Japan and other faraway ports. Haikus may be written in the dark forest of Aokigahara: Why?

King no Yoake got out in front and stayed there running the race wire-to-wire to win in 1:48.5. But, to you who say polka-dots are no substitute for heart, Buchiko ran the good race. Yes, at 1.6 the odds were wildly inflated by 20-year-old girls clutching Buchiko plushies and making their first bets in the game, but Buchiko ran the good race, and that was good for everybody — good for the JRA, good for the game, and really good for the punters who figured Buchiko for second or third place.

The rail was working and King no Yoake caught a break charging from the second post position to take an early lead. The best horse on the field, 5-year-old Enhorabuena by Symboli Kris S, appeared to catch King no Yoake for the briefest second with meters to go, but had to settle for second place, and Buchiko finished just about where she should have finished — third.

Wipe away those tears friends of Buchiko. Hang on to your Buchiko plushies, key chains, t-shirts, handbags, cell phone plugs and charms. Buckiko does have heart, and she’ll race again.

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