By Nicholas Godfrey
Japan Nakayama: Arima Kinen G1 ¥648 million (£4.7m) 2,500 metres (1m4½f), turf, 3yo+
Chrono Genesis (Takashi Saito/Yuichi Kitamura)
A memorable year for Japanese racing – despite the attentions of Covid-19 – reached its climax in appropriate fashion when Chrono Genesis, both race favourite and No.1 fans’ pick, won the Arima Kinen, the season-ending grand prix at Nakayama on Sunday.
The four-year-old daughter of Arc winner Bago kept up a brilliant run for fillies and mares in Japan’s top races this term, where the likes of Almond Eye and Gran Alegria have also left their mark in no uncertain terms.
The Arima Kinen is one of two designated ‘All-Star’ races on the JRA calendar where the field is picked partly via a fans’ ballot. The other one is the Takarazuka Kinen – also won by Chrono Genesis, who received a record 214,742 votes for the Arima Kinen from a staggering total of 2,633,902.
Worth ¥648 million (£4.7m), the Arima Kinen’s purse matches that of the Japan Cup and puts it firmly in the world’s top ten prize-money races. Indeed, in domestic terms, it is the more popular race, which accounts for its status as the world’s biggest turnover betting race with a reported ￥46,425,894,400 (£335m) turnover for this 65th edition, which featured no fewer than eight G1 winners.
Sent off 6-4 favourite, Chrono Genesis got a brainy ride from jockey Yuichi Kitamura. After running towards the rear in the early stages as Babbitt was allowed to set a moderate clip, she was rushed up on the back stretch before throwing down a challenge in the straight to market rival Fierement, who also carries the famous Sunday Racing colours.
Chrono Genesis just got the better of that argument, only for 74-1 outsider Salacia to charge down the outer with the fastest finishing burst of all. The post came just in time and Chrono Genesis held on by a neck, with Fierement – forced to race three wide throughout from a wide draw – only another neck back in third. In fourth was the four-time G1 winner Lucky LIlac, who has been retired.
Winning trainer Takashi Saito admitted to concerns that Chrono Genesis’s rider had made a premature move. “I was worried that Yuichi might have made too early a bid,” he said. “But he was confident and rode her beautifully, holding off the others. This is a dream come true and I have a feeling there will be many more.”
Kitamura added: “All I wanted was her to be relaxed and her break wasn’t that bad and she was in hand and ran in the same rhythm as before.
“Yesterday and today, I was in 2,500m races here at Nakayama which enabled me to get warmed up with a good idea of how I wanted her to run. We haven’t faced the two Triple Crown winners yet, but I hope she performs well and stays in the spotlight next season.”
A Classic winner at three in the Shuka Sho (Japanese fillies’ St Leger), Chrono Genesis was winning her third G1 altogether. Her dam is Chronologist, whose offspring have enjoyed quite a month as she is also the dam of recent Hong Kong Cup winner Normcore.
The Arima Kinen also franked the form of Japan Cup heroine Almond Eye, who retired as No.1 on the TRC global rankings. She had Fierement and Chrono Genesis into second and third place in the Autumn Tenno Sho at the beginning of November.
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