Champion apprentice Kimura's out to fill Woodbine legend's shoes

Picture: Eclipse Sportswire

Kazushi Kimura left his local Japan with the hope of creating an influence at the Canadian Thoroughbred racing scene. On Thursday night time at Gulfstream Park in Florida, he controlled to eclipse that purpose.


Listening to his identify referred to as because the recipient of the 2019 Eclipse Award as North The us’s champion apprentice jockey was once nowhere close to the longshot marvel the Woodbine-based Kimura delivered in his first profession driving win.

However it didn’t make the instant any much less memorable for the local of Hokkaido, Japan.

“I think superb,” mentioned Kimura, who gained 74 votes, to complete forward of fellow finalists Julio Correa (60 votes) and Angel I. Diaz (53).  “After they referred to as my identify, I used to be so satisfied. I had such a lot of messages from other people again in Japan and other people in Canada, texting me, and pronouncing congratulations. I used to be contacted by means of a large number of Jap media… that’s why I’m feeling a bit bit dizzy and drained. However I’m simply feeling so satisfied. I need to say thanks to the running shoes, house owners and such a lot of other people. My circle of relatives mentioned, ‘We’re so happy with you,’ and that makes me so satisfied. I simply really feel so fortunate.”

Kimura, whose father runs a Thoroughbred coaching middle in Hokkaido, wasted little time in turning heads after he arrived at Woodbine in 2018.

His first victory got here in his 11th profession get started, on June 9, 2018, aboard 70-1 Twister Cat, and his first added-money rating got here aboard Rapid Soul within the OLG Muskoka Stakes. He finished his first marketing campaign on the Toronto oval putting 5th within the standings with 89 wins.

Kimura, who left house in his early teenagers to wait the Japan Racing College in Shiroi Town, Chiba Prefecture, the place he remained for 2 and a part years, additionally had 15 wins at Fortress Erie, to complete his first season in Canada with 104 overall victories.

The ones efforts earned him the 2018 Sovereign Award as Exceptional Apprentice Jockey.

In spite of the difficulties of finding out a brand new language and coming to a brand new nation, not anything was once misplaced in translation when it got here to the affable teenager’s race-riding prowess.

Via the tip of 2018, Kimura seemed proper at house, each within the saddle and in his new lifestyles in Canada.

However he was once most effective getting began.

Closing 12 months, Kimura gained 148 races, together with 146 at Woodbine. The latter quantity positioned him 3rd at the back of completed journeymen Eurico Rosa Da Silva (182 wins) and Rafael Hernandez (164 wins).

A profession spotlight got here when he partnered Magnetic Attraction, a British-bred filly skilled by means of William Haggas and owned by means of Her Majesty, The Queen, within the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes Offered by means of the Japan Racing Affiliation at Woodbine.

Kimura and the daughter of Exceed and Excel rallied to complete 2nd to Starship Jubilee within the ‘about’ 1 1/8-mile turf match on September 14, certainly one of a number of graded occasions at the Ricoh Woodbine Mile undercard.

“I rode for the Queen, which is one thing that sticks out in my reminiscence. Each time I take a look at the photographs, it brings a grin to my face. I had a superb opportunity and it is going to all the time stick with me.”

Some other prime level got here simply over two months later when Kimura piloted Roger Attfield trainee Gun Society to victory within the South Ocean Stakes.

Now, Kimura can upload an Eclipse trophy to his ever-growing listing of accomplishments.

However the soft-spoken rider gained’t be resting on his laurels.

Now not by means of a longshot.

When the 2020 Woodbine Thoroughbred season commences on April 18, Kimura shall be in a position for a brand new set of demanding situations, armed with a brand new set of targets.

“Eurico (main rider, Rosa Da Silva) has retired, so I can you should be champion rider,” he presented. “I would like to check out to win the large races, just like the Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Mile, and I need to have extra stakes wins. If I may just, I’d like to check out and trip in large races in the US, too.” 

Jordan Miller, Kimura’s agent, is aware of he’ll be in a position.

“His professionalism and determination to driving… it’s all he thinks about. When he’s now not on the observe, he’s staring at races or understanding. His determination is one thing I’ve by no means noticed in a jockey. He’s truly serious about having every other large 12 months.”

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