HORSE’S MOUTH: Uma vs. George



(Published April 4, 2015)

Before I begin pounding out my column, I check to see what the date is so, I glanced at my calendar and was a bit surprised to see that today was already the first day of April.

Gosh, in a few months I’ll be hitting 90 years as far as my age is concerned.

When I began writing back in camp days (Heart Mountain Relocation Center) I never realized that I’d still be writing a column at almost age 90.

I know I have mentioned this a few times before but I thought those who don’t remember how I become known as “The Horse” might be interested.

It all started when I was interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center along with other Japanese Americans.

I used to jog around the race track, and when the camp internees saw me running, some of them began to say, “Hey, you think you’re a race horse?” So I gained the nickname “Horse,” which I have carried with me until the present time.

“Horse” was attached to me by the editor of The Heart Mountain Sentinel, Bill Hosokawa. I filled a space called “Sports Tidbits.”

During my three years with the U.S. Army, I began writing for the Army newspaper and the editor assigned me to fill a column called “The Horse’s Mouth.”

The name “Horse” stuck with me when I began writing a column for The Shin Nichi Bei published in Little Tokyo.

When I went to Japan and took a job, guess what? I became “Uma.”

I’m not sure how it happened, but the folks in Japan began calling me that. The one young lady in the company said, “Maybe it’s because you look like an uma.” I didn’t know if I should laugh, but for the three years I was employed by the company, I was known as “Uma.”

The amusing thing is that I became more comfortable as “Uma” rather than George.

At any rate, when the employees at the company went to the races, they wanted me to tag along. They thought I brought them luck.

In fact, one of the owners of race horses said, “I think I’ll name one of my horses “Umataro.” He did, and what do you know? The horse did pretty well in the win circle.

When he decided to travel to the U.S. to look over some horses he might buy, he purchased two to race in Japan and they did pretty well, according to information I got from my friends in Japan.

Horse-racing in Japan is big business and winning races there is accepted as being successful money-wise.

I know I used to make a point of it when horses from Japan did compete at Santa Anita or Hollywood Park. None of them fared too well, but it was interesting to see them run anyway.


Speaking of things Japanese, how about some U.S. owners bringing over some Japanese jockeys to ride at the local tracks? I’m curious why a few Japanese riders don’t accept rides on U.S. tracks. Size-wise, I’m pretty sure Japanese jockeys would get a lot of mounts if they decided to ride in the U.S.

We don’t have any Japanese riders on mounts in the U.S., but I’m sure they would be successful if they decided to accept mounts at, say, Del Mar or Santa Anita.

I haven’t been to the track lately, but it sure would attract my attention if they had Japanese jockeys at Santa Anita.

They had the Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita, so you can imagine what it would be like if some of the entries were from Japan.

They’re off and running.


Well, I might be a little short today. One thing about writing, one has to get out and engage in activities to fill a column, and I’m getting back on schedule.

So hang in there with me, Editor Gwen, and I’ll be back as I usually am. I have been planning ahead, so I know I can make this statement.

Thanks, Gwen, and the rest of the Rafu staff.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.




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