03/11/2011 11:38AM

Japan cancels weekend racing after quake, tsunami


The 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan on Friday has played havoc with the Japanese racing schedule this weekend, with damage to at least two racetracks in northeastern part of the country. The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Pacific Ocean off the northeast coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu.

All six Japan Racing Association (JRA) meetings this weekend, two each at Nakayama east of Tokyo about 270 miles from the quake epicenter, Hanshin near Osaka about 340 miles west of Tokyo, and Kokura on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, have been canceled. Four graded stakes, the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Fillies Revue, a key prep for the Japanese 1000 Guineas; and the Hanshin Spring Jump at Hanshin, the Chukyo Kinen at Kokura, and the Nakayama Himba Stakes at Nakayama, are in flux. No decision has yet been made as to whether those races will be run at a later date.

Part of the roof at the track in Fukushima in northeastern Japan, the JRA track that lies nearest to the quake epicenter, collapsed. Minor damage also also reported at Tokyo Racecourse. Both tracks were dark Friday. Nobunori Furuta of the Japan Racing Association’s American office in Greenwich, Conn., said the there have been reports of extensive damage to the National Association of Racing (NAR) track in Mizusawa in the northeast.

The earthquake struck toward the end of the meeting at Japan’s National Association of Racing (NAR) track at Ohi east of Tokyo on Friday afternoon. The last three races on the 12-race card were lost as racegoers scrambled to safety. NAR officials have canceled racing at Funabashi a few miles east of Ohi from Monday through Friday, but racing at two other NAR tracks in western Japan, Kasamatsu and Sonoda, will proceed as scheduled, Kasamatsu from Tuesday through Friday and Sonoda from Wednesday through Friday.