February 22, 2024

Efforia looks to dethrone Chrono Genesis in Arima Kinen

Efforia upstaged Contrail in the Tenno Sho Autumn (Copyright Japan Racing Association)

After besting Contrail in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1), sophomore star Efforia will try to topple defending champion Chrono Genesis in Sunday’s Arima Kinen (G1) at Nakayama. Chrono Genesis is making her swan song in the prestigious $6.1 million affair, whose 16-strong field is partly determined by fans’ voting.

Arima Kinen – Race 11 (1:25 a.m. ET)

Efforia finished first in the Arima Kinen balloting, with a record 260,472 votes to lower last year’s mark set by Chrono Genesis. She beat her own record when garnering 240,165 toward her title defense.

Chrono Genesis has raced just three times since last December’s feature. Runner-up to Mishriff in the Mar. 27 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), where she beat familiar foe and future Breeders’ Cup heroine Loves Only You, Chrono Genesis scored an historic repeat in the June 27 Takarazuka Kinen (G1). The daughter of Bago became the first female to win that Hanshin prize twice, and the first of her sex to capture three “Grand Prix” events, including the Arima Kinen.

Trying to make history for Japan in the elusive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), Chrono Genesis found the heavy going against her and wound up seventh. Compatriot Deep Bond, who had run away with his prep in the Prix Foy (G2), fared worse in a tailed-off last. Conditions should be more suitable for both here. Chrono Genesis breaks from post 7 with Christophe Lemaire. Deep Bond, drawn in post 4, reunites with Ryuji Wada who was aboard for his close second in the Tenno Sho Spring (G1).

Efforia is a whisker away from being unbeaten. That lone loss came in his longest race so far, the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1), making this about 1 9/16-mile distance at least a question. Yet pedigree suggests that it shouldn’t be a problem for the Epiphaneia colt out of a Heart’s Cry mare. Efforia is also proven over this course, having bolted up in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1) over Titleholder and Stella Veloce. And the form of his Tenno Sho has worked out well, as runner-up Contrail, third Gran Alegria, and fifth Hishi Iguazu all came back with top efforts. Contrail went out a winner in the Japan Cup (G1), Gran Alegria did the same in the Mile Championship (G1), and Hishi Iguazu just missed to Loves Only You in the Dec. 12 Hong Kong Cup (G1).

Takeshi Yokoyama, who maintains his partnership with Efforia from post 10, masterminded Titleholder’s front-running demolition job in the Oct. 24 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1). Previously second to Efforia in the Satsuki Sho and sixth in the Derby, Titleholder picks up Kazuo Yokoyama (Takeshi’s older brother) for the rematch. The far outside post 16 implies that he’ll go forward again here.

Fellow classic veteran Stella Veloce, third in the first two jewels, just failed to make a placing in a three-way photo for the Kikuka Sho minors. He posted the joint-fastest final sectional of :34.7, along with Asamano Itazura who closed from last for ninth of 18. Both had won stepping stones two races back, Stella Veloce taking the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2) at Chukyo and Asamano Itazura pulling a 41-1 upset of the St. Lite Kinen (G2) on this course.

The improving Panthalassa enters in career form for trainer Yoshito Yahagi. By Lord Kanaloa and out of a Montjeu mare, the four-year-old steps up in class and trip after scores in the October S. at Tokyo and the Fukushima Kinen (G3).

Fuchu Himba (G2) scorer Shadow Diva exits a seventh in the Japan Cup. Other also-rans from Tokyo include Aristoteles, who challenged Triple Crown champ Contrail in last fall’s Kikuka Sho; venerable seven-year-old Kiseki, yet to get closer than fifth in his trio of attempts in this race; You Can Smile; and Mozu Bello. Former mile celebrity Persian Knight, seventh in the Tenno Sho Autumn, has a tall task to reverse form with Efforia.

Aside from Chrono Genesis and Shadow Diva, three others will try to continue the fine results for distaffers in this race. Akai Ito hopes to prove that her 63-1 shock in the Nov. 14 Queen Elizabeth 2 Cup (G1) at Hanshin was no fluke, while QE2 10th Win Kiitos was ahead of Glory Vase and Lei Papale when previously runner-up in the Sankei Sho All Comers (G2). Melody Lane, by two-time Arima Kinen champ Orfevre, was unplaced in her prior tries in majors including the Takarazuka Kinen.