Chrono Genesis chasing record-setting double in Japan

For two of the elite brigade – Chrono Genesis and Kiseki – their final runs will be in this Sunday’s (26 December) G1 Arima Kinen (2500m), an iconic, nearly legendary, race in Japan, and naturally a cherished racing tradition.

Fittingly, the race boasts a winner’s prize that ties the G1 Japan Cup (2400m) at JPY300 million yen (approx. HK$20.58 million).

The 66th running of the Arima Kinen will see 16 top gallopers compete and, like the G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) in early summer, many of the horses have been voted in by the fans. This year, the Arima Kinen’s top three ballot winners – Efforia, last year’s winner Chrono Genesis and Titleholder – are also expected to be well-supported in the market. Six G1 winners and five females figure in the final line-up with ages ranging from three to seven.

An unusually strong presence of three-year-old colts (who, like the girls, will also enjoy the 5lb weight allowance) likely present the biggest threat to the four-time G1 winning Chrono Genesis and her ability to cap her career with a second successive Arima Kinen victory.

The five-year-old daughter of Bago comes straight into the race after returning from her Longchamp run in early October, as does Deep Bond. And, having won both last year’s and this year’s Takarazuka Kinen, victory for Chrono Genesis in Sunday’s Arima Kinen would complete a record-setting double sweep of both the ‘Dream Races’ in Japan.

This weekend, she’ll have Christophe Lemaire in the saddle, as regular rider Yuichi Kitamura, sidelined earlier in the year by a fall, watches on from the stands.

The Epiphaneia-sired Efforia, who won more than 260,000 votes from racing fans, is considered to be the biggest threat to Chrono Genesis. He has bagged two G1s this year, the Satsuki Sho (2000m), the first race in Japan’s Triple Crown, and, after passing on the G1 Kikuka Sho (3000m), took on and captured the Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) on 31 October.

The colt handed Takeshi Yokoyama, who rides in his second Arima Kinen, his first big wins of his career, and the hotshot’s mile-wide smile surely was behind some of the fans votes. His father, Norihiro, (1996 Arima Kinen winning jockey) and older brother Kazuo (still without a top win in 10 years of riding) also have rides (Shadow Diva and Titleholder, respectively) in the Arima Kinen, making the contest quite the family affair.

Titleholder, by 2015 dual-Classic winner Duramente, returns from his win under Takeshi Yokoyama by five lengths in the final leg, the 3000m Kikuka Sho on 24 October. More than half his eight starts have been at Nakayama and his solid record shows his suitability to the venue. While his most recent result in the G2 St. Lite Kinen (2200m) was not an accurate representation of his ability as he was caught in traffic.

If Titleholder can turn the tables on arch-rival Efforia, he would become the fourth Kikuka Sho winner from that year to win from the last 10 editions of the Aimra Kinen.

Stella Veloce placed in consecutive Classics and he is the only one from his age group in the contest that hails from Ritto Training Centre. Also by Bago, the colt comes straight to the Arima Kinen from the Kikuka Sho. The ride is going to Mirco Demuro, whose brother Cristian is aboard longshot Persian Knight.

A look at the rest of the field sees a number of others getting high marks in morning work, top among them is Akai Ito, a four-year-old filly who aced the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2200m) on 14 November in her first G1 bid.

Hideaki Miyuki was her partner then and will be this time as well. Akai Ito is Miyuki’s very first Arima Kinen mount across a career spanning 27 years.

Aristoteles is a colt that competed in the Classics last year in the shadow of Triple Crown winner Contrail. He last raced in the Japan Cup where, much to the dismay of veteran trainer Hidetaka Otonashi, Takeshi Yokoyama took the colt close to the front for the first time in his career, a move that resulted in numerous spooks and a fading ninth placing. This time out, three-time Arima Kinen winner Yutaka Take – a legend of Japanese racing – hops aboard.

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