Dream Journey powers to Arima Kinen victory

by Barbara Bayer

FUNABASHI, Chiba Pref. — Tears of both joy and pain marked the 54th running of the Arima Kinen Sunday at Nakayama Racecourse.

For Kenichi Ikezoe they were tears of joy, as race second pick Dream Journey topped favorite Buena Vista by half a length for the win.

For the 5-year-old son of Stay Gold, it was the second victory in a grand-prix, elected-by-ballot race this year, following his win of the spring Takarazuka Kinen. Dream Journey clocked 2 minutes, 30 seconds flat over fast turf.

Following Buena Vista by four lengths was 11th choice Air Shady in third place, with Forgettable in fourth place and Meiner Kitz in fifth.

A late break failed to disadvantage the eventual winner, who stayed on the rail toward the rear in the early stages of the 16-strong field.

“I wanted to hold back early on as he tends to be overly keen,” Ikezoe said of his mount. “If we could wait a bit, I knew he had enough once we got to the straight.”

Moving wide into the stretch of the 2,500-meter turf event, Dream Journey responded with the power Ikezoe was seeking and easily took the top with time to spare.

It was the first win of the Arima for Ikezoe, who was overtaken by emotion by the feat and the congratulatory cheers from the fans, over 115,000 of whom turned out for one of Japan’s favorite races.

Wiping tears from his eyes with his sleeve, Ikezoe walked Dream Journey slowly before the stands following the race, then had to be supported after he dismounted and stumbled sobbing to the the weighing-in room. “Pull yourself together,” trainer Yasutoshi Ikee was heard telling him.

The race was marred by tragedy as well, as Three Rolls broke down in the backstretch. Rider Suguru Hamanaka, riding in his first group 1 race, was unhurt but unable to hold back his tears as he too was helped sobbing back to the weight room. A torn tendon is expected to spell the end of Three Rolls’ racing career.

Dream Journey, by Stay Gold out of the Mejiro McQueen mare Oriental Art, was bred at Shadai’s Shiraoi Farm in Hokkaido and is owned by Sunday Racing.

His earnings fell just short of ¥770 million, accumulated in 24 starts and nine wins, including six wins of graded races. The first-place prize money for the Arima alone was ¥180 million.

Take’s streak ends

FUNABASHI , Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) Hiroyuki Uchida snapped star jockey Yutaka Take’s streak of leading the Japan Racing Association circuit in wins at seven consecutive years when he picked up his 146th win of the year Sunday.

Uchida’s victory aboard Lo Grand in the day’s third race at Nakayama Racecourse guaranteed that Take, second on the wins list, will not catch Uchida even if he wins all of his remaining races on the final day of the 2009 JRA season.

Take later finished with 140 wins.

Uchida joined the top-tier JRA in March 2008 from the local circuit.

“I feel proud to become the first jockey to lead both JRA and local circuits in single-season wins,” said the 39-year-old.