08/21/2007 11:00PM

Inouye's action speaks loudly

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Tak Inouye thinks he has a couple of decent 2-year-olds in Chianti Dancer and Mr. Ichiban. Coming from Inouye, that's saying a lot. He rarely runs his horses where they don't belong, and because he's not afraid to run them for a reasonable claiming price, he usually doesn't keep horses in his barn for very long.

Chianti Dancer, a 2-year-old filly by Amaruk, will try stakes horses in the $50,000 Lassie Stakes on Saturday, and Mr. Ichiban is slated to start in the $50,000 New Westminster on Sunday. Both races are at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Chianti Dancer is owned and was bred by Inouye and Red and White Stables. She's started three times. She ran a big race to finish second going 3 1/2 furlongs in a $25,000 maiden race June 2. Inouye gave her some time off and then brought her back going six furlongs, and she finished second to Mr. Ichiban in a $25,000 maiden race on July 29. She won a $25,000 maiden race Aug. 11, increasing her Beyer Speed Figure from 45 to 60.

Considering Inouye's philosophy of developing his horses, it's not surprising she appears to be headed in the right direction.

"I always tell my riders not to kill them when they run for the first time," he said. "Teach them something and win if you can, but make sure you bring them back safe. I think both Chianti Dancer and Mr. Ichiban can improve. It's also kind of exciting being the breeder of Chianti Dancer."

Inouye should have a good idea of what a good horse is. He was a successful rider in the 1960s and his most memorable win came in the 1965 Queen's Plate aboard Whistling Sea.

Inouye likes Mr. Ichiban's chances better than Chianti Dancer's. Mr. Ichiban finished fourth going 3 1/2 furlongs in a $25,000 maiden race June 7 and then beat Chianti Dancer in his only other start.

"They're both nice horses, but I just think the fillies around here right now are a pretty tough group of horses," he said. "Chianti Dancer has a win and two seconds from three stars, and anything can happen in a 2-year-old race, so we'll give her a try. The colts haven't impressed me as much and I think Mr. Ichiban can run a bit. It's worth taking a shot with both of them, and if they get outrun, we'll drop them back in for a price."

Because Inouye isn't afraid to spot his horses aggressively, some of the horses he's lost via the claim box, like Spanish Banks, have gone on to win stakes races.

"I don't mind if they go on and do well for another trainer," Inouye said. "They're usually better trainers that take them over anyway. I usually make a profit, though, and that's the name of the game. I almost ran Chianti Dancer for $15,000, but I got cold feet and scratched her."

The one horse he wishes he still had is Earl's Diamond. Under Inouye's care, Earl's Diamond won three races, and the day he lost him for $35,000, he got beat by a head. Inouye was part of a group that paid $5,500 for Earl's Diamond, and they obviously did very well with him.

"It's not so much about the money," Inouye said. "It's just that every time I led him over, I knew he was going to give me 100 percent. He was a nice horse to have in the barn."

Inouye who was born in Duncan, British Columbia in 1939, has had a full life. His first trip to Hastings was when he was about 3 years old, when his family was moved there for a few weeks before being sent to a Japanese internment camp in the interior of British Columbia.

"One of my first memories would be when we were in a little ghost town called Sandon," he said. "From there we moved from one camp to another, and when everybody was dispersed we moved to Vernon, where I grew up."

As well as being involved in horse racing for a big part of his life, Inouye was successful in the carpet business. Whatever happens over the weekend with Chianti Dancer and Mr. Ichiban isn't likely going to change his positive demeanor.

"I consider myself one of the lucky people in the world," he said. "I did what I wanted to do. If I didn't like something, I would only do it to a certain point. I have a nice group of horses right now and I'm certainly enjoying working with them."

True Metropolitan in good shape

True Metropolitan came out of his win in the $50,000 Westerner at Northlands Park last Sunday in good shape, according to trainer Terry Jordan. Although he won by only a neck as the 1-2 favorite, Jordan was very pleased with the race. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles was a very good 1:42.40. The track record of 1:42.60 was set by Chilcoton Blaze in 1984.

"He was only a fifth of a second off of a track record that has stood up for a long time, and the track was a bit on the dull side," he said. "It was a very good race for him. We'll keep him in Edmonton for now and either run him back in the Speed to Spare there or the Randall Plate at Hastings."

True Metropolitan was an easy winner of the 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare last year. The $100,000 race is scheduled for Sept. 8. The $50,000 S W Randall Plate runs Sept. 3.