03/22/2011 12:34PM

Japan rearranges racing calendar in wake of earthquake and tsunami

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The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 continues to play havoc with the Japanese racing schedule. On Tuesday, the Japan Racing Association announced that all April meetings at Nakayama, east of Tokyo, and at Fukushima, the track nearest to the quake epicenter, have been canceled.

As a result, the current meeting at Kokura on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, has been extended through April 10. More importantly, a number of stakes races have been rescheduled. The Satsuki Sho, or Japanese 2000 Guineas, has been switched from Nakayama on April 17 to the regularly scheduled meeting at Tokyo Racecourse west of Tokyo on April 24. Five stakes races – the Grade 2 Nikkei Sho, the Grade 2 New Zealand Trophy, the Grade 3 Nakayama Himba Stakes, the Grade 3 Lord Derby Challenge, and the Grade 3 March Stakes – have been relocated from Nakayama to Hanshin near Osaka in the western part of the country. In addition, the world’s richest jump race, the Nakayama Grand Jump, has been suspended with no date or location scheduled at this time.

The Japan Racing Association is pitching in to aid victims of what is being called the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake. At the current meetings at Hanshin and Kokura, owners are donating 30,000 yen ($370) from each start, trainers 10,000 yen ($123), and jockeys 3,000 yen ($37). Meanwhile, the JRA itself has donated 100 million yen ($1.23 million) and the Japan Owners Association 50 million yen ($617,000). The Japan Trainers Association and the Japan Jockeys Club have each donated 5 million yen ($61,700). All admission fees at the seven JRA meetings between March 19 and 21 have been donated as well.