Shirota to Ride At Ak-Sar-Ben: Lightweight, Hawaiian-Born Jockey From West Coast Had Nearly 100 Winners in 1958, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-14


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, . ; ; i Shirota to Ride At Ak-Sar-Ben Lightweight, Hawaiian-Born Jockey From West Coast Had Nearly 100 Winners in 1958 OMAHA, Nebr., May 13. — Racing fans at Ak-Sar-Ben will have an opportunity on opening day to watch one of the most unusual riders in action today in young Mitchell Shirota. Shirota, of Japanese parentage, has been riding just a year and one half, but has been one of the most popular young reinsmen riding on the West Coast during that time. Shirota, 26 years of age, "does" a light 106 pounds. He was born and spent most of his youth in Hawaii. After coming to this country Mitch attended Brigham Young University where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree. In this he followed the footsteps of an older brother. He bases his selection on B. Y. U. to the fact that he and his entire family are devout members of the Mormon Missionary in the Islands. Shirota during his first season of riding scored with 94 winners; 83 seconds and a like number of thirds out of the 836 mounts he accepted. Shirota gives full credit to two people for causing him to develop into a top-flight rider in such a short time. These are the popular Japanese rider, George Taniguchi and trainer "Swede" Jenner. The former gave Shirota a world of advice and actually aided him in many ways when Shirota first entered the business. Jenner was the trainer who held his contract when he won his first race at Agua Caliente on March 1, 1958. More Glory His Best Mount After riding with marked success at Caliente, Shirota then moved into California. He won the Cinderella Stakes on Tassie Dancer at Hollywood Park, among his more important triumphs. Shirota feels that the best horse he has ridden to date would be More Glory, a highly regarded .allowance performer at major tracks on the West Coast. This will be Shirotas first real invasion of the Middle West or East, although "he did fly to Garden State to ride Ruwen-zori last year in the Gardenia Stakes. On that occassion he finished third. Shirota has already gained the complete admiration of Western racing officials in that after riding for nearly a year and a half he has received but one ruling. During the Ak-Sar-Ben meeting Shirota will do the bulk of the riding for the powerful stable trained by H. A. "Irish" Gordon. Shirota also rode for Gordon during the recently concluded meeting at Tan-foran; as well as during the earlier Santa Anita session. Being of slight build, and still doing the light weight, Shirota should lose little time in gaining a solid following here because, mainly his ability to handle any type of horse with equal adeptness. Omahas racing fans will certainly be afforded an opportunity to witness a rider who will offer an unusual freshness, in that he is as well or better educated both in the racing field and the field of learn- ing. Ak-Sar-Bens fans will really love little Mitchell Shirota.

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