Efforia (3-2) not only attracted a record number of votes from fans deciding the entries, but he also is the morning-line favorite to win the Grade 1, $5.6 million Arima Kinen, the Japan Grand Prix at Nakayama Racecourse, on Sunday at 1:25 a.m. EST.
With 260,742 votes, Efforia set a new record, topping Chrono Genesis’s record from last year. This year Chrono Genesis (2-1) received a personal best of 240,165 votes as she tries to defend her 2020 victory in what will be her last race before retirement.
See past performances for the Arima Kinen.
The Epiphaneia-sired Efforia, this year’s Satsuki Sho (G1) and autumn Tenno Sho (G1) winner, has made dreams come true for jockey Takeshi Yokoyama, whose 100 wins this year have brought him to No. 5 in the jockey standings in only his fourth-year riding. Efforia, who drew post 10 for Sunday, returns from his Oct. 31 Tenno Sho run. The course is familiar from the Satsuki Sho and only 110 yards longer than Efforia’s longest trip so far.
Last week the 3-year-old bay colt breezed under Yokoyama on a woodchip course over six furlongs for a time of 1:24.1 seconds, 11.8 seconds over the final furlong. Efforia’s trainer Yuichi Shikato expressed his satisfaction with the work.
“He’ll get two more workouts before the race. He came back from the farm looking happy and healthy and training has gone well.”
Chrono Genesis, a 5-year-old mare by Bago, tries to earn her fifth Grade 1 victory. She returns directly from her seventh-place run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), where the gray encountered soft ground like none she had known before, and her forward position made for even a harder race.
Following her win in last year’s Arima Kinen, Chrono Genesis started the year with a second in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), and next up back home captured her second successive win of the Takarazuka Kinen (G1).
Titleholder (8-1), a 3-year-old Duramante colt, drew widest in the field of 16. He finished second, sixth and first in the classic races with a five-length win in the Kikuka Sho (G1), also known as the Japan St. Leger. Finishing 13th on Sept. 20 in the St. Lite Kinen (G2), he was stuck helplessly in traffic and was not representative.
Like Efforia and Chrono Genesis, Titleholder will also be racing under only 121 pounds. In the last 10 runnings of the Arima Kinen, four winners have come straight from the Kikuka Sho. Three had won the classic, and one had finished fourth.
The 16 entrants range in age from 3 to 7 with a very strong representation by 3-year-olds. Five fillies and mares are also in the mix.
Arima wanted a race to rival the Tokyo Yushun (Japan Derby) and the event began as the Nakayama Grand Prix. At the time, it was the only race to solicit fans’ votes for the horses they most wanted to see run. Arima got to see his race’s inaugural run on Dec. 23, 1956, but fell ill and passed away less than three weeks later.
The Arima Kinen, shortened half a furlong from 1966, is currently run about 1 9/16 miles (2,500 meters) on turf. The race record, set by Zenno Rob Roy in 2004, is 2:29.5.
Run over the Nakayama inner course, the Arima Kinen starts at the far bend on part of the outer course, passes before the grandstand and circles again. A slope in the homestretch begins 220 yards before the finish line and rises more than six feet in about 150 yards.
The Arima Kinen will be the 11th race on Sunday at Nakayama, where the weather is forecast to be sunny with a high of 43 degrees. The race is open to 3-year-olds and up, and horses carry 126 pounds each with a five-pound allowance given to mares and 3-year-old colts.