Friday, July 26, 2013

New issue online and snippets from Japan

A colorful plastic food display outside a restaurant at Narita Airport in Tokyo.
The summer issue of North American Trainer is now available online here.

This is our heftiest magazine to date, coming out to over 100 pages, including a large feature on Katsumi Yoshidas Northern Farm in Hokkaido, Japan.

(I wrote a related feature for TDN here, beginning on page 8.) 

Im so very grateful to Su-Ann Khaw, who masterminded and arranged the visit to Northern Farm, and to our hosts, Dr. Hirofumi Kawasaki and Noriko Takahashi. Su-Ann and I spent a number of days as their guests, taking an extensive tour of the farm, Northern Horse Park, and Shadai Stallion Station. They also took us on an overnight trip to beautiful Hakodate, where we attended the races and Northern Farm’s Carrot Club racing partnership had a winnerDr. Kawasaki and Noriko looked after us very well during our time at Northern Farm and made sure we had a wonderful stay.

Su-Ann and I spent our last two nights on the island in the capital city of Sapporo, where we found very few people who spoke English. That was a bit of an adventure! But so much fun.

They don’t even begin to capture how fabulous the trip was, but here are some photos from the week taken on my phone (except the first one below, from a real camera).

Dr. Kawasaki, Su-Ann, and Noriko.
U.S. Horse of the Year Azeri on an overcast, rainy day. (We visited Azeri again on our last day at the farm to get pictures of her in the sunshine.)
One of the most outstanding moments (of a trip full of outstanding moments) was meeting the minuscule 24-year-old retired broodmare/nanny What Katy Did, a stakes-winning/Grade 1 stakes-producing daughter of Nureyev. I was so excited that I sliced off her nose here. (She does have a nose in the other pictures, but I like this one the best anyway.)
A great picture of Zenya Yoshida in the gallery at Northern Horse Park.
Sunday Silence's door, feed tub, and halter, on display at Northern Horse Park. I wanted to bring the door home with me.
Some of the many JRA championship trophies in the gallery. This is the Japanese version of the U.S. Eclipse Award.
First dinner in Hokkaido, at a very traditional restaurant. A truly special dining experience -- straight out of the movies -- with great company and great food. In my chopsticks is a bamboo shoot tempura, and that piece of corn tempura on the rectangular plate in the middle was my evening's favorite taste -- when I learned the word "oishi" (delicious). The mostly empty plate here had very soft silken tofu -- not the easiest consistency to eat for a novice with chopsticks -- and that's a sales catalogue cracked open in the top left corner.
We were not sure what this was. Something broccoli-ish, we decided. Google identifies it as both Romanesco broccoli and Romanesco cauliflower. Whatever -- it's good eats!
My first cup of sake, from the bottom left of the sake menu. The second cup was the one listed above it.
Dessert: ice cream with red bean paste. A novel concept to me but it was quite good!
Unexpected find in the hotel in Chitose. A touch of home?
Always wear nice socks in Japan, because sooner rather than later, your shoes are coming off.
A Deep Impact pillow in one of the offices at the farm. I wanted one of these sooo bad, but they don't make them anymore. I bought two plushies (one of Deep Impact, one of Gentildonna) instead.
2006 Melbourne Cup winner Delta Blues. He bites! I can personally vouch for this.
Lunch at K's Garden at the horse park. We ate here every day except one while we were at Northern Farm, and this -- a suzuka beef dish -- was my "usual." So, so, so, so, so, so good. Crazy good.
At Northern Horse Park. I couldn't have said it any better myself.
At 21, French Deputy is looking very well at Shadai Stallion Station. And he's a docile fellow.
Awesome moment Number 5,328: meeting Deep Impact.
Quick lunch at the local Lawson convenience store with Su-Ann and Noriko. FYI, in the big city, Sapporo, there is a Lawson about every 20 feet or so. And I am not exaggerating.
The view from my hotel room in Hakodate.
We had dinner at Lucky Pierrot, which is a famous burger chain in Japan.
JRA outriders at Hakodate Race Course. The Pacific Ocean is just beyond the buildings in the background.
Carrot Club's Snowstorm, a grandson of Sunday Silence, after winning at Hakodate.
Dinner at Totori with Su-Ann, her friend Kaz, and some of his friends. We wore bibs and sat on the floor.
Outside the Hokkaido Museum of Literature. I went in for a moment and thought about exploring it, despite not seeing a single word in English. Next time I'm in Sapporo...
Boats for rent in Nakajima Koen (Park). I love this picture.
I hope this (presumably) lost kitty is back home with his/her people.
Bikes everywhere. Very few of them had locks, if you can believe that.
We were proud of our success in buying subway tickets (though the machine went out of order as soon as we finished the transaction), and we made it to our stop with far less drama than we encountered on the train from Chitose to Sapporo.
Final dinner in Hokkaido: I managed to order this wonderful margherita pizza from this menu at Salvatore Cuomo (recommended by Noriko). Foodie Su-Ann ordered an item from the "specialita" section and was pleasantly surprised with uni on her pizza.
Kenny G at the airport, and he sat just in front of me on the flight from Chitose to Tokyo. For some reason, this gave me the giggles for several hours. Was it the hair? Was it how tiny he is? Or maybe the Snickers commercial below contributed to my amusement?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Little Snow at Northern Farm

There will be plenty of upcoming posts -- plus features in North American Trainer and Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) -- from my trip with Inkmarksofsu to Northern Farm in Hokkaido, Japan. In the meantime, here are some photos I can’t resist posting of Yukichan, Zazu, and Tapitsfly.

Bred by Northern Farm, Yukichan is one of few registered white Thoroughbreds and the only one, to my knowledge, to have won a stakes race (she is a dual stakes winner in Japan). She is a 2005 daughter of gray stallion Kurofune out of the white mare Shirayukihime, whose name translates to Snow White in English. Shirayukihime was sired by the near-black Sunday Silence and is out of a bay Topsider mare.

The first foal out of Yukichan (translation per my new friend Noriko Takahashi: Little Yuki, Yuki being both a womans name and the Japanese word for snow), a 2012 filly by King Kamehameha, is bay, but her second foal, the 2013 Harbinger filly shown here, is white.

Optical many horses do you see?

Yukichan (right) and her Harbinger filly.
Multiple Grade 1 winners Zazu and Tapitsfly, who are not quite white but gray or roan like their sire Tapit, were purchased by Northern Farm last November and exported to Japan. More info (i.e. what they are in foal to for 2014) will appear in the TDN.

Zazu (left) and Tapitsfly.