07/06/2012 2:36PM

Hastings: Beating odds nothing new for Inouye


VANCOUVER, British Columbia − Trainer Tak Inouye will try to win Sunday’s $50,000 Boulevard Casino Stakes at Hastings with Lil Miss Bean, who figures to be a bit of a longshot in the six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies. Inouye knows something about longshots, though. He won the 1965 Queen’s Plate aboard Whistling Sea, the Roy Johnson-trained horse who became the first Western-based runner to win the race. Inouye was a longshot just to ride Whistling Sea, let alone win the race.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Inouye said. “I was at Roy Johnson’s barn when the rider that was supposed to ride Whistling Sea in the Woodstock asked if he could get off him to ride another horse. Roy looked at me and asked if I wanted the mount. Of course I said yes.”

Inouye won the Woodstock and then was a bit shocked when Johnson said he was going to bring Whistling Sea back in the Plate Trial.

“I thought they were crazy,” Inouye said. “He was life and death to win going three-quarters, and I didn’t think there was any way he could go a mile and a sixteenth.”

After Whistling Sea dragged Inouye around to win the Trial he came back to upset the Queen’s Plate, paying $16.20 to win.

“I learned something about him after the Woodstock,” Inouye said. “If you took a hold he would grab the bit and go. I just let him run on his own for the first part, and when they started coming to him in the Trial I just took another cross, and he took off. He did the same thing in the Queen’s Plate five days later. He won three stakes in two weeks. Horses just don’t do that anymore.”

Inouye, 73, grew up in Vernon, British Columbia, where his parents owned a tack store. Inouye worked at the store and was introduced to people who were involved in horse racing.

“We made saddles, repaired tack, and there were a lot of horsemen in the area,” he said.

He started out as a hot walker at Stampede Park in 1959 and eventually became a jockey, starting his career at Hastings in 1962.

“I didn’t do very well here, so I went to Winnipeg, where I did okay,” he said.

Inouye rode until 1969.

“I had too many bad injuries,” he said. “I had about four concussions, too many to remember.”

He stayed at the track for three more years as the head of the Canadian Jockey’s Guild. He eventually returned to Vancouver, where he went into the carpet business with his brother.

“We were very successful, and I saved enough money to get back into horse racing,” Inouye said. “It was always the plan. I told my brother when I went into business with him that when I turned 60 I was going back to the track. I’ve always loved being around horses.”

Inouye said he is pretty high on Lil Miss Bean, who won her debut in a $20,000 maiden claiming race for B.C.-breds going 3 1/2 furlongs. What really impressed him was her five-furlong move in 1:00.20 over a track rated good July 1. She worked in company with Lord Henry, a 3-year-old who finished second in the $75,000 Ascot Graduation last year. Lord Henry is running in a $25,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds Sunday.

“Lord Henry is a pretty nice horse, and I was surprised when she outworked him,” Inouye said. “She is a big, good-looking filly, and I know she is going to try.”

Inouye said he is also a big fan of Lil Miss Bean’s rider, Ryan Pacheco. Pacheco won the Sovereign Award for the leading apprentice in Canada last year.

“He is a real thinking rider,” Inouye said. “He has great hands and doesn’t slash horses with his whip.”

Like most of the horses Inouye buys, Lil Miss Bean came cheaply. He paid $2,000 for her at last year’s Canadian Thoroughbred Yearling and Mixed Sale. She is facing open company Sunday, but she has a couple of easier spots in her sights in the B.C. Cup Debutante restricted to B.C.-breds Aug. 6 and the CTHS Sales Stakes Aug. 24.

“She’s a pretty nice B.C.-bred, and I think she’ll give those Kentucky-breds a real run for their money,” Inouye said.

Lil Miss Bean will be a decent price, and so was Regal Grace when she won the 2003 CTHS Sales Stakes at 12-1 for Inouye. So far, Regal Grace is the only stakes winner he has trained.

Three racing days in August cancelled

The Horse Racing Industry Management Committee has officially cancelled three racing days scheduled in August. Citing an overpayment in purses and a shortage of horses, Aug. 3, 23, and 30 have been cancelled.

The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is endeavoring to have either races added or days tacked on at the end of the meet to make up for the lost opportunities. The meet is scheduled to end Oct. 14.