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On the Racing Front This Weekend...

Re the ongoing thread of whether War Emblem is or isn't gay:

His Japanese stud-farm owners, the Shadai Stallion Station, continue to deal with his low libido. And their efforts are paying off -- the horse has a growing list of progeny -- 43 to date, with the oldest now racing as four-year-olds. Enough of them are stakeswinners that War Emblem is actually edging onto the Top 20 Sire list in Japan, and his new yearlings are fetching hefty prices at auction.

Last night I stayed up late to watch the Japanese Derby, aired live from Tokyo on TVG's International Racing. One of the three-year-old entries was Shonan Alba, the latest sensation among War Emblem's get. He has inherited his daddy's racy black good looks, and also Daddy's hot wilful temperament. The colt's attitude makes him a headache for his jockey, who says, "You just have to let him do what he wants to do." But Shonan Alba has done well enough to become the first graded stakeswinner among his daddy's offspring.

Unfortunately the Derby wasn't a good day for Shonan Alba's wilful racing style, and he finished out of the money. The favorite, Deep Sky, romped home to win. But there's always tomorrow, and maybe a jockey change in store for this promising colt.

The 1 1/2-mile Japanese Derby, run on grass, is the second event in the Japanese Triple Crown, the others being the Japanese 2000 Guineas and the Japanese St. Leger. A huge crowd of 130,000 screamed the horses home, and the winner's circle overflowed with all the wonderful pomp that the Japanese drape around their horse racing -- speeches, bows, band music, and bouquets of flowers for all.

On to auto racing, where the crowds are going wild for Joey Logano. He's the hot new kid driver who made his NASCAR debut in the Nationwide series at Dover yesterday. Last week Joey turned 18, old enough to race in NASCAR.

A native of Connecticut, Logano has been racing since he was old enough to walk, and came up through national championships in a variety of series. The buzz has been pushing him towards "teen idol" status for a couple of years already, but he's simpatico and unassuming on camera, taking it all in stride. And he's cute enough to acquire a whole raft of gay fans.

At Dover yesterday, rookie Logano finished 6th, racing against veteran Cup drivers.

-- Patricia Nell Warren