It's not all sunshine on the track.
While the series is all-around light-hearted, there are more than a few moments that will elicit tears.
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Episode 1: Gate of Dreams!
- As brief as it is, given she finds out Silence Suzuka is with Team Spica anyway, it's a little sad seeing the dejected Special Week after the entry test, where she tried so hard to join Team Rigil to race with Suzuka only to lose to El Condor Pasa.
Episode 2: The Debut Race out of Nowhere
- There's a brief moment where Spe recounts her childhood to her friends, where Spe's mother dies shortly after giving birth to her, but not before entrusting Spe to her other mother with the plea that she becomes the best horse girl in Japan.
Episode 3: First Big Win!
- After losing the Satsukishou to Seiun Sky, Spe laughs off her loss while walking home with Suzuka, unconvincingly claiming to her that she isn't bothered by it. Sure enough, when Suzuka follows her after she claims to have forgotten something, Spe is found sobbing into a hollow tree trunk, completely crushed. Fortunately, Trainer is there to lift her spirits.
Episode 4: Special Training
- Spe is still torn up over losing the Satsukishou and is too dejected to focus, leading to her pouring too much milk in her cup and even hurting her thumb while nailing in her horseshoes. Results in serious Mood Whiplash however when Spe realizes how much weight she'd gained moments after.
Episode 6: Autumn Skies and Horse Girls
- Suzuka talks about how she had loved running ever since she was a child. However, as time went on, all the training and racing she'd do would fail to give her that spark again. Goes into Heartwarming territory afterwards though, when she tells Spe that by meeting her and the rest of Team Spica, she got to find that love for running again.
- There's a brief moment with El after the Suzuka wins the Mainichi Okan, hunched over and crying over her first-ever loss. While she's back on her feet and vows to beat Suzuka in the Tennoushou, people familiar with history will know about the tragedy that unfolds at this race.
- In an overlap with Heartwarming a dejected Grass Wonder meets Team Rigil's trainer Hana in the tunnel outside the track, where she apologizes for losing. Hana's response is to wrap her up in a hug, reassuring her that she'll just have to win in her next G-1 race. Grass can only cry in response.
Episode 7: Promise
- The team being understandably saddened by Suzuka's announcement that she's leaving for America after the Japan Cup, given how tightly-knit they all are. Even worse is the girls squabbling over who will get to race her, not knowing what will happen to her at the Tennoushou.
- Suzuka breaking her leg in the Tennoushou.
- It's just so sudden. One moment, Suzuka is leaving everyone behind in the dust with an amazing time while the onlookers go wild. Then, she's suddenly stumbling, as the music takes a dark turn and everyone, both racing and watching, looks on in horror as they realize something is horribly wrong with her.
- El's normally pumped-up demeanor is completely gone on the victor's podium, accepting her trophy with a sad look on her face. Her team can't find the heart to cheer for her either.
- Hana tries to contact Trainer about what had happened, but her call goes unanswered as he and the rest of Team Spica sit in silence in the waiting room for Suzuka to wake up.
- After Suzuka wakes up, Trainer reluctantly tells her she might not be able to run at full capacity anymore.
- Daiwa Scarlet tells Suzuka that she could have outright died if she had fallen while running, and that she only got away with a fracture because Spe had caught her. The real-life Silence Suzuka actually did die from this injury, being in so much pain that he had to be euthanized right on the track.
- Spe saving Suzuka on the track. After catching her and laying her on the track, Spe tearfully reminds her about their promise to run together before she leaves for America, before breaking into tears when Suzuka barely manages a thank you before the medics arrive.
Episode 8: For You
- Because of being completely occupied with Suzuka, Spe's performance across the board suffers.
- She cries uncontrollably after being defeated in the Japan Cup, which she had insisted on joining in order to race with Suzuka before the latter's injury prevented that from happening.
- Grass's mounting frustration with Spe before the Takurazuka Kinen for not taking her and the race seriously. When the race comes and Grass handily beats her, she expresses her disappointment with Spe for not giving it her all, leaving her crushed.
- Spe begins to cry when Trainer reminds her about her dream to become the greatest horse girl in Japan, having lost sight of her goal due to only caring about Suzuka.
Episode 9: Dreams of Spica
- Suzuka's fears about getting hurt again while running, and that she might be holding back the team due to her lackluster performance. Meanwhile, Spe is still struggling to stop herself from worrying about Suzuka, and this makes her own performance continue to suffer as well. Fortunately, both of them manage to break free from their negative thinking when Trainer urges them to develop a Friendly Rivalry.
- While talking to Spe about her race against Broye, El breaks down crying halfway through the conversation due to losing.
Episode 11: Welcome Back!
- In an overlap with Heartwarming and Awesome, Suzuka successfully manages to win her comeback race in the Open Special Cup, making the onlookers, announcers, and even Trainer cry tears of joy.
Episode 2: Never Gonna Give It Up!
- Despite trying as hard as she could to recover from her fracture in time from the Kikkashou, Tokai Teio isn't able to get well fast enough, resulting in her missing the Kikkashou and preventing her from achieving her dream of becoming an undefeated Triple Crown horse girl like Symboli Rudolf, who had inspired her to race as a child in the first place.
- After hearing the news how she can't race in the Kikkashou from her doctor, Teio breaks into a short run on the way back home, but stops dejectedly, knowing it was over. She then pays a visit to the track, looking at the practicing horse girls sadly.
- She heads over to Trainer's office to break the news to him, and finds him running himself ragged trying to figure out how to get her back at full strength. After watching him sadly, she heads in and tells him that she won't be racing. He desperately protests that he would find a way, but Teio dissuades him.
- While watching the race, Teio isn't able to stop herself from imagining herself running and what she would do, and begins to cry.
Episode 5: Unbeaten Champion
- After reframing her goal of gaining an undefeated Triple Crown into remaining an undefeated horse girl, Teio is unable to attain this dream either when she loses the Tennoushou, to her rival Mejiro McQueen no less. The only thing stopping her from crying is a promise to McQueen that the loser of their competition shouldn't cry.
Episode 6: Searching for a Reason
- After the Tennoushou, Teio is found to have suffered an injury again. After both of her dreams have slipped out of her grasp and once again being unable to race, Teio is left questioning what she could even run for now.
- Trainer is also down on himself, having failed twice now to help Teio accomplish her dream and fearing that she's losing her passion for racing completely.
- Teio ends another race in 11th place, unable to find a goal to pursue by running. She's every bit as dejected as her onlookers and teammates by the end of it.
Episode 7: A Blessed Name
- While watching McQueen win a race, Rice Shower forced to hear other onlookers disparaging her for denying Mihono Bourbon, who she had defeated in the Kikkashou, her undefeated Triple Crown.
- When Team Spica accosts Rice after finding out she didn't want to race against McQueen in the Tennoushou, she tells them how she dreamed of being a glamorous and celebrated horse girl and looked up to her idol Bourbon, who she aspired to beat. When she actually did it in the Kikkashou, not a single person cheered for her and were instead upset that Bourbon didn't win, leaving her heartbroken. Since everyone is now looking forward to McQueen winning and holding onto her title three years in a row, she fears a repeat of the Kikkashou happening, especially when she considers her own Ironic Name of representing something happy.
- After Bourbon and Teio finally catch up to Rice after a campus-wide chase, Rice once again tells how she just wanted acceptance by winning against Bourbon, but nobody gave her that. She claims that unlike Teio and Bourbon, she was a "heel", that was booed and hated by everyone while she made them sad, despite her name of Rice Shower.
- In an overlap with Heartwarming, Bourbon assures Rice that she never once hated her for beating her at the Kikkashou, and that Rice was in fact her inspiration, telling her about a potentially Career-Ending Injury that left Bourbon questioning if she wanted to keep racing, and only opting to keep racing in order to surpass Rice, who was now her "hero".
- During the end-credits, a montage plays of a once-happy Rice through her journey from a wide-eyed child to a hopeful racer, forming a stark contrast with her gloomy present self.
Episode 8: A Small Wish
- Rice manages to beat McQueen in the Tennoushou, once again dashing the crowd's hopes and eliciting boos. Fortunately, the other racers are more than happy to clap for her, as well as a few members of the crowd.
- When Rice meets Bourbon in the tunnel, she can't help but shed a few tears for being booed, although Bourbon consoles her and reassures her to not be upset.
Episode 9: Stopwatch
- While spending time with Rudolf, Teio admits that she had been avoiding her for a while, due to not wanting her to see her while she was feeling purposeless and lost.
- Right when she was getting back on her feet and had found the motivation to race in the Takarazuka Kinen against McQueen, Teio sustains another fracture to her leg. And this time, there's the chance she'll never be able to run at full strength again.
- When they hear the news, Teio simply brushes it off, saying she'll heal like she did the last two times. However, Trainer can see her hand trembling. Later in her hospital room, when Trainer tries to talk to her about it, she once again insists she's fine, even though her face is turned away.
- When the news breaks that she's suffered her third fracture, all of her fans and friends look crestfallen. Special mention goes to Rudolf and Kitasan Black, who respectively inspired and are inspired by her.
- Then come a slew of events that only make her feel worse:
- The news mentions how Teio might have to exit racing entirely.
- While doing her "leader" duties for the team, she encounters a father and daughter, who mention how they **used** to root for her a lot, and now assume her career is over.
- She suffers a nightmare where she can't keep up with teammates during practice, and begs them not to leave her behind while they get further and further away.
- Even Trainer expresses his worry that this time Teio might not be able to bounce back and run at full strength again.
- While timing McQueen's run, Teio isn't even able to imagine herself keeping up with her, and can only watch in awe at how beautiful she looks while running - before acknowledging she will never run like that again. She begins to cry, unable to respond to =Mc Queen's= calls for her time and having forgotten to stop the stopwatch.
Episode 10: One Day, Without a Doubt
- The episode begins with her taking a poster off her wall, which she had previously written her two unrealized dreams on. She thinks to herself about having to give her dreams up - before she's shown to have written a letter of withdrawal, with the intent to quit running forever.
- Teio decides to spend a day in town and having fun now that she doesn't have to think about running anymore, but by the end of it all she doesn't feel any better at all.
- On her way back home, she encounters Kitasan outside the gates, who tries to give her a handmade good-luck charm in hopes that she'll run again. However, Teio refuses it, and tells Kitasan to find someone else to look up to as she walks away, leaving the poor girl in tears.
- Twin Turbo, who had designated herself as Teio's rival, tries to coax her into running with a letter of challenge, which doesn't do anything to lift her spirits.
- Trainer is holding back tears as he drowns his sorrows in the bar with Hana, knowing that no matter how hard he tries, Teio will never run the same way, and he won't be able to even try and help her if she's given up completely.
- Team Spica is understandably at a loss when Trainer tells them of Teio's plans to quit, with Spe in particular trying her hardest not to cry while thinking of ways they can help her.
- Twin Turbo accosts Teio while she practices for the Fan Appreciation Day concert, where she plans to announce her departure. Turbo pleads with Teio to race against her and other strong horse girls in the All Comers race. The two girls begin to argue, with Teio trying to insist that she's not racing again while Turbo refuses to believe she was quitting, even resorting to challenge Teio to race with her if she won, which would be impossible given her competition. By the end of it, Turbo runs away crying all the way back home, and through a meeting where she begs her team and trainer to help her stop Teio from quitting.
- The Fan Appreciation Day. All of it. Also doubles as Heartwarming all the way through.
- While Teio sadly thanks her fans for sticking with her to the end, when she reaches the part where she says she's quitting, she can't bring herself to say it.
- A crying Kitasan interrupts Teio, saying she'd wait for her to run again while holding the charm she'd made. This makes Teio remember the excitement and joy she'd felt upon seeing Rudolf run when she was Kitasan's age.
- Trainer, and then the rest of the crowd, immediately jump in, begging her not to quit.
- Team Canopus hijacks the stage's screen to show the live footage of Turbo running at the All Comers race - and WINNING, against the likes of RICE SHOWER no less. As she crosses the finish line, Turbo screams out for Teio, telling her that this is what it looked like when one doesn't give up. For the sake of a rival that can't even get her name right, Turbo, against all odds, managed to win through sheer force of will.
- Then Team Spica comes out onto the stage and beg her not to quit, with most of them crying.
- McQueen then approaches Teio, who at this point is crying, and tells her how she still plans to keep running as the strongest horse girl. When Teio tells her she's afraid she won't be able to keep up, McQueen reassures her that miracles can and will happen.
- As the crowd chants her name, Teio finally turns around and, through tears, tells everyone she won't give up and will keep running.
- During the end-credits, a montage plays.
- Teio's team hugs her in joy.
- Kitasan hugs Teio while she has her charm in hand, having finally accepted it.
- Trainer, along with Those Two Guys who watch the races with Kitasan and her friend Satono Diamond, have their arms around each other and crying as they cheer.
- The whole crowd cries as they cheer an also-crying Teio through her performance.
Episode 12: Together
- After spending the whole of the previous episode expressing how much they appreciated and looked up to the other as rivals, tragedy strikes when McQueen is diagnosed with suspensory ligament desmitis in her leg, an incurable and recurrent condition that will prevent her from running ever again. Both Teio and Trainer are mortified, with the former taking off to search for her after McQueen is reported to have escaped from the sanatorium where she was recuperating, all while a Grey Rain of Depression begins.
- McQueen, despite her injury, tries to practice at the track. After a brief flashback to her grandmother trying to dissuade her from running, the only thing on McQueen's mind is Teio, and how she picked herself back up again and again after suffering all her injuries, heartbreaks, and broken dreams. She expresses her belief that it was destiny that the two had met and were to run together as each other's rivals, recalling their promise to run against each other. All the while, she stumbles worse and worse until she finally falls over from the pain in her leg.
- When Teio finds her, McQueen attempts to pass herself off as fine, and that the pain is nothing. However, falls to her knees immediately after, all while telling Teio how she will continue to be her rival. Then she collapses completely, and McQueen finally breaks down, admitting that she can't get her leg to move and that she won't be able to keep her promise to Teio, sobbing uncontrollably.
Episode 13: Galloping After Our Dreams
- The episode opens with Diamond crying due to the news of McQueen's injury while Kitasan tries to console her, as she looks up to her just like Kitasan looks up to Teio.
- The Arima Kinen. Also qualifies as Heartwarming and Awesome.
- McQueen can't find the heart to go and watch Teio race at the Arima Kinen, as she fears Teio won't be able to make a miracle happen and win with the odds so stacked against her, and thus fail to prove that a miracle can happen with her leg too.
- When McQueen musters to courage to go and watch, she, along with the rest of the crowd, can't contain their shock when they find Teio had MOVED UP TO SECOND PLACE. After a YEAR of not running races. McQueen begins to tear up when she realizes that Teio might actually win.
- Teio thinks back on all her frustrations, her injuries, her heartbreaks, and how she'd lost her way again and again, and how this time, no matter what, she was going to win, and gets the power for a big spurt.
- Teio then moves up, while every onlooker is openly crying and screaming for her to go and pass Biwa Hayahide, who was the crowd favorite. McQueen starts crying, completely overwhelmed.
- Teio then PASSES BIWA, and remains in first place to claim her win. Every onlooker goes wild, letting the tears flow freely after seeing Teio overcome all the odds and win.
- As her team congratulates her through tears, McQueen gives Teio her most heartfelt thanks for performing a miracle and giving her hope about her condition.
- Teio then gets tackled by a group of other racers, who are crying just as hard as the crowd while they all congratulate her, along with Biwa and Rice.
- The final scene of the season is Teio and McQueen alone and racing each other on a track, being able to keep their promise to each other after all. Also counts as Heartwarming.