• The week’s significant milestones, facts and figures
2,633,902 Arima Kinen
Japan: A staggering total of 2,633,902 votes were cast in the annual fans’ ballot for the Arima Kinen, the world’s biggest-turnover betting race at Nakayama on Sunday [Dec 27].
Four-year-old filly Chrono Genesis led the way on 214,742 votes, just shading Lucky Lilac (212,674). Both horses will run in the ¥648 million (£4.7m) event, also known as the ‘Grand Prix’, but Triple Crown winner Contrail, third in the ballot with 212,622, isn’t among those declared.
USA: Welder, a seven-year-old gelding trained by Teri Luneack, equalled the all-time record for victories at Remington Park with his 15th success at the venue on Saturday night [Dec 19]. Reigning Oklahoma-bred of the year, he was ridden by David Cabrera to take a 6f allowance event on dirt; he shares the win record with Highland Ice and Elegant Exxactsy.
Welder has won 26 of his 38 career starts, with many of the victories coming in designated US ‘Black Type’ races (plus a couple of Listed). He has won more than a million bucks in prize-money.
2,452 Chris Johnson
New Zealand: Veteran jockey Chris Johnson, 56, established a new national record for victories on Saturday [Dec 19] at Awapuni when Sassenach provided him with win 2,452 in New Zealand. The 56-year-old was surpassing the mark achieved by David Walsh.
100 Grant Behr
South Africa: After 25 years in the saddle, jockey Grant Behr finally landed his first G1 winner when 100-1 shot Russian Rock got up late to win the Cape Guineas at Kenilworth in Cape Town on Saturday [Dec 19].
The journeyman jockey, who is 42, had only ever won a single G2 event in a long career – and that was back in 2005 – on Mercury Chief, also trained by Russian Rock’s trainer Dean Kannemeyer. To be fair, though, Behr had twice finished second in G1 company.
2,542 Almond Eye
Japan: After a JRA lottery, 2,542 fans were allotted places in the Nakayama grandstand after racing on Saturday [Dec 19] to attend the retirement ceremony of the great Almond Eye, who goes to the paddocks with a Japanese record nine G1 wins to her name.
Christophe Lemaire, who had ridden his 200th winner of the season during the afternoon, described her as a “fantastic mare who rewrote the history of Japanese horse racing.
“She has been cherished by people who love and are passionate about horses and horse racing from her debut to the last race she ran.”
5 Anna Jordsjo
Australia: Norwegian-born jockey Anna Jordsjo recorded a career-best five-timer at Port Lincoln in Adelaide on Sunday [Dec 20]. The 25-year-old scored on Boniface, La Petite Rousse, Dakulya, Paulo Pace and Midnight Brawler to take her seasonal tally to 27 in the South Australian jockey premiership.
26 Awesome Again
USA: Awesome Again, the horse who beat Swain in the Breeders’ Cup Classic of 1998 at Churchill Downs, died on Tuesday [Dec 15] at the Old Friends retirement farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. He was 26.
A Canadian-bred son of Deputy Minister who raced for his owner-breeder Frank Stronach, he won nine of his 12 career starts for earnings of £4.3m-plus and also sired four Breeders’ Cup winners, headed by Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year.
1,000 PJ McDonald
GB: G1-winning rider PJ McDonald recorded his 1,000th British Flat winner at Chelmsford on Thursday night [Dec 17] when he partnered the Mark Johnston-trained Kondo Isami to win a 1m2f novice stakes.
Best known for his association with Laurens, North Yorkshire-based McDonald, 38, also won the 2007 Scottish Grand National over jumps on Hot Weld before switching codes. Counting Flat and jumps, he hit the 1,000-winner mark in July.
75 Roger Brueggemann
USA: Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Roger Brueggemann died last Tuesday [Dec 15] owing to the effects of Covid-19. He was 75.
Illinois-based Brueggemann enjoyed late-career success after he started training for Midwest Thoroughbreds in 2010, saddling Work All Week to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2014.
His best-known horse, though, was The Pizza Man, who won the 2015 Arlington Million. He trained a career total of 1,248 winners.