Show will go on at Japanese Derby despite coronavirus

Japan Times -- May 30
The countdown is on for one of the most prestigious horse races in Japan, as the clock ticks down to 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, when the Japanese Derby will be run.

This year, with things as they are in the world of sport, the race will be held behind closed doors, taking away its colorful atmosphere and vibrancy. But nevertheless, the horse-racing fraternity will breathe a sigh of relief about the fact the race can go ahead, albeit not quite in its usual guise.

Racing jurisdictions around the world have dealt with the coronavirus problem in different ways, and the Japan Racing Association has made its own model, restricting the movement of horses and personnel, as well as closing off-track betting facilities and only permitting wagering online or by phone. Sales turnover remains (in most cases) at a fairly healthy 80 to 85 percent of previous figures, and it has enabled the wheels of the industry to keep turning. It’s a fact that has not been lost on JRA President and CEO, Masayuki Goto.

“While many other countries have been suspending racing, JRA has been fortunate enough to continue holding closed-door race meetings, and the Japanese Derby will be held under those conditions,’’ said Goto. “I’m sure it’ll be a race full of thrills, so please enjoy it under the stay-home request on Sunday. We sincerely hope things everywhere return to normal soon, and people can enjoy watching racing on site.”

The Japanese Derby, or Tokyo Yushun as it is sometimes known, was first run in 1932 at the Meguro Racecourse in Tokyo.

All that remains now of the former racetrack is a small stone memorial and horse statue to the west of Meguro station, and — just to remind us of the first derby — a race known as the Meguro Kinen, a valuable handicap that is now run on the same day as the derby.

- Japan Times