Race favorite Kitasan Black turned the tables this time in his third Arima Kinen challenge after finishing third and second in his last two. Coming off a third-place finish in the Japan Cup, the son of Black Tide capped off his stellar career with his seventh G1 title, tying the record of most JRA-G1 wins with Symboli Rudolf, T.M. Opera O, Deep Impact and Vodka while surpassing T.M. Opera O in career earnings with 1,876,843,000 yen. He will retire to stud and stand at Shadai Stallion Station beginning next season. The last G1 victory being the Tenno Sho (Autumn) for both Trainer Hisashi Shimizu and jockey Yutaka Take, Shimizu is now a winner of seven G1 titles, all with Kitasan Black, while Take who has previously won the Arima Kinen with Oguri Cap and Deep Impact in 1990 and 2006, respectively, celebrated his 75th G1 victory with his third Arima Kinen win, which ties with Yukio Okabe, Seiki Tabara, Olivier Peslier and Kenichi Ikezoe.
Established in 1956 under the name “Nakayama Grand Prix,” the race was renamed to Arima Kinen (Arima Memorial) a year later after the sudden passing of the second JRA president, Yoriyasu Arima. Arima initiated the idea of holding an attractive event at Nakayama Racecourse, where a new grandstand had just been completed at that time, in an attempt to create a race that would receive as much attention as the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese
Derby) held at Tokyo Racecourse.
The Arima Kinen was designed to be a season-end Grand Prix, in which the runners were selected by fan poll—an “All-Star” event in Japanese Racing. Fans could cast their votes by ballots available at JRA racecourses and off-track betting sites, by mail or by online to select the ten most popular runners. The rest of the field is determined in order of earnings. Foreign runners that won the Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m) became eligible to race in the Arima in 2000 then the race was designated as an international G1 race and open to a maximum of six foreign runners in 2007, though no foreign runners have yet participated in the race. The Arima was given a boost in prize money last year and became the richest race in the country along with the Japan Cup.
Kitasan Black did not miss a beat coming out of the starting gate and assumed command uncontested. The son of Black Tide cruised by the cheering crowed who had come to witness his final run and was never in threat as he took it in his stride throughout the 2,500-meter trip, having plenty left as he entered the homestretch and in full gear for a comfortable 1-1/2-length victory.
“He ran a great race. I just concentrated on letting him run his race so there'd be no regrets. I was going to decide on the pace depending on his start but he broke really well so I let him take the front without hesitation,” commented Yutaka Take.
Queens Ring, also retiring after this race, gave a great performance under Christophe Lemaire. Constantly keeping an eye on the eventual winner while sitting in fifth position along the rails, the Manhattan Cafe mare responded well to her jockey as he drove her into full gear along the center lane and, while unable to cause a serious threat on Kitasan Black, out-rallied Japan Cup victor Cheval Grand and derby runner-up Suave Richard for second place.
Cheval Grand broke smoothly and was rated in mid-division, around tenth from the front. Making headway while turning wide around the last two corners with Suave Richard on his outside, the two horses came with great force to challenge the leaders with Japan Cup victor gaining an edge over Suave Richard in the last strides to almost pinning Queens Ring while out-finishing Suave Richard for third.
4th: (14) Suave Richard―settled near rear, made wide bid, rallied strongly for 2nd, neck short at wire
5th: (11) Rouge Buck―unhurried from start, sat on rails in rear, dug in strongly with fastest last 3f charge
6th: (7) Sciacchetra―pressed pace from outside, slowly weakened in stretch, gave up runner-up seat 150m out
7th: (16) Sounds of Earth―3-wide and 2nd from rear, widest at last corner, good charge but never a threat
8th: (8) Rainbow Line―saved ground on rails near rear, keen early, showed effort in late drive, never a factor
9th: (6) Satono Chronicle―in mid-pack and on rails throughout, mild response, unable to reach contention
10th: (1) Yamakatsu Ace—sat on rails in third behind eventual winner, remained a factor last 100m, weakened
11th: (13) Mikki Queen―reserved in 3rd from rear, mild kick, improved position without reaching contention
12th: (4) Bless Journey—hugged rails in mid-division, gradually weakened in stretch, no factor
13th: (12) Satono Crown―sixth from rear on rails, struggled for room in early stretch, bumped after furlong pole
14th: (5) Tosen Victory―raced in mid-pack, ran gamely until 200m out, soon checked, lost momentum
15th: (15) Curren Mirotic―advanced to 4th from wide draw, outrun by rivals before final corner
16th: (9) Sakura Empereur―traveled in mid-division, met traffic 200m out, lost momentum
Fractional time (sec./furlong): 6.8 – 11.6 – 11.9 – 12.2 – 12.3 – 13.3 – 13.2 – 12.8 – 12.2 – 12.1 – 11.7 – 11.2 – 12.3
Last 4 furlongs: 47.3 Last 3 furlongs: 35.2
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