by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

OSAKA, Japan—Calvin Borel won the opening race of the two-day World Super Jockeys Series at Hanshin race course on Saturday, but the victory was an eventful one. Borel, riding the favorite, the Australian-bred Red Ransom colt Oceana Boss, had to sweat out a lengthy inquiry after an incident at the top of the stretch.

Borel pleaded his case to the stewards after he swung out from a tight spot on the inside on the turn for home, causing another horse in the race to check in the seven-furlong turf contest. The horse directly in front of him, Borel said, had taken a bad step, and he was concerned that he was going to break down. The horse in question did finish the race but was vanned off.

The inquiry seemed to take forever, which oftentimes indicates a disqualification is coming. In this case, however, it's more likely the translator didn't speak Cajun, and had a difficult time explaining to the stewards in Japanese what the Louisiana native was saying. Don't look for Borel to learn Japanese anytime soon, either. On a sightseeing trip in the Osaka area Friday, a tour guide was explaining how to read the Japanese kanji symbols. “How am I going to learn that?” Borel joked. “I can barely read English.”

After Borel's winning race was made official, he quipped, “The trainer told me he had a horse that could run like Rachel Alexandra. I just tried to get him to relax early and he was much the best.”

He is learning Japanese customs, however, bowing on cue during the winner's circle ceremony and the presentation of a gold medal.

The win gave Borel a brief lead in the competition, which consists of a total of four races Saturday and Sunday. All the horses in each of the races are weighted A, B, C or D by racing officials, and the jockeys ride one of each class. Oceana Boss was Borel's “A” horse. A victory is worth 20 points, with 15 for second, 13 for third, 11 for fourth, 10 for fifth, and then 6, 5, 5, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1 for the remaining finish positions. A total of 15 riders are competing.

Japanese jockey Norihiro Yokoyama and Hong Kong-based Ryan Moore ended the day tied as the points leaders. Yokoyama finished second to Borel and fifth in the second leg of the competition behind Moore, who won aboard Charm Nadeshiko after finishing sixth in the first leg. Garrett Gomez was third in the final race following an 11th-place finish in the first leg. Borel could do no better than 12th of 15 horses in the second leg while aboard a 130-1 shot. For a minute, it looked like Borel was on Mine That Bird, trailing the field by a wide margin the early stages of the nine-furlong dirt race. But rather than taking the inside route like he did to win the Kentucky Derby, Borel rallied to the far outside and only passed a few horses.

Here are the leaders after day one of the World Super Jockey Series:

1-Norihiro Yokoyama, 26 points

Ryan Moore, 26 points

3-Yutaka Take, 23 points

4-Calvin Borel, 21 points

5-Shinji Fujita, 19 points

6-Douglas Whyte, 15 points

Mick Kinane, 15 points

Garrett Gomez, 15 points

New York-based Rajiv Maragh, in Japan to ride Tizway for trainer Jim Bond and owner William Clifton Jr. on Sunday, was the riding star of the day, winning two races earlier in the card—one on turf and one on dirt. The experience was a good for Maragh, who has never raced in a clockwise direction, as Hanshin races are run. (Neither had Borel or Gomez, for that matter.) Maragh also has some mounts on Sunday's card before the Japan Cup Dirt.

Maragh won aboard the first-time starter Steal Pass (by Neo Universe)  going seven furlongs on dirt on the fifth-race of the card, then took the seventh aboard Meisho Jimmu going nine furlongs on turf.


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