Meanwhile in … Osaka

Horse Racing Lys Gracieux Takarazuka Kinen
Lys Gracieux (Damian Lane) wins the Takarazuka Kinen in 2019. Photo: JRA

Crisis, what crisis? More than 1.4 million fans vote in Japanese ballot

Whisper it quietly, but there are those who fear horse racing in Japan might not be as popular as it once was.

Mind you, if this is a crisis in popularity, then it is the sort of crisis the rest of the world can only dream about. Just look at the level of interest in the public vote for the 61st edition of the Takarazuka Kinen, scheduled to be run behind closed doors at Hanshin racecourse in the city of Takarazuka, near Osaka, on Sunday June 28.

Like the Arima Kinen, the G1 event is a designated ‘All-Star’ race, which means the majority of the field is determined by public ballot at the Japan Racing Association website.

This year’s vote took place between May 21 and June 7, with Almond Eye topping the charts with 111,842 votes. To put this into some sort of context, Alligator Blood came out on top in public voting for the 2020 All-Star Mile in Melbourne, a race that emulates the Japanese concept.

In what was widely regarded as a successful exercise ahead of the Caulfield contest, he accrued 18,052 – nearly 100,000 fewer than the Japanese superstar. Alligator Blood’s tally would not have been good enough to make the Top 20 in Japan.

Oh yes, the total number of fan votes cast for the Takarazuka Kinen? Just the small matter of 1,404,621.

• Learn more about Japanese racing at the JRA website

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