As the grand finale of the year, Sunday’s $6 million Arima Kinen (G1) fittingly recapitulated a theme of the Japanese season: distaff dominance. Chrono Genesis, the 3-2 favorite, overtook Fierement in the betting and down the stretch, then held the furious rally of 74-1 longshot Salacia in the Arima Kinen’s first-ever female exacta. Lucky Lilac finished fourth in her swan song, with only third-placer Fierement preventing a distaff sweep at Nakayama.
Japan’s females have now taken a record haul of nine JRA Grade 1s over males in 2020. Chrono Genesis is responsible for two, including her romp in the June 28 Takarazuka Kinen (G1), and she twice placed in majors to fellow distaffers. Second in the Apr. 5 Osaka Hai (G1) to Lucky Lilac, Chrono Genesis was most recently third the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) to the queen Almond Eye, who boosted the tally by taking the Japan Cup (G1). Star sprinter/miler Gran Alegria captured three herself – the Yasuda Kinen (G1), Sprinters (G1), and Mile Championship (G1) – after just missing to yet another mare, Mozu Superflare, who was awarded the Mar. 28 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) via disqualification.
That domestic mark doesn’t even count the exploits of Normcore, heroine of the Dec. 13 Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin over Win Bright and Magical. Normcore is a half-sister (by Harbinger) to Chrono Genesis (by Bago), so their dam, the Kurofune mare Chronologist, has had a December to remember.
Trained by Takashi Saito for Sunday Racing Co., Chrono Genesis was a popular choice for the Arima Kinen well before Sunday. The Arima Kinen field is determined partly by fans’ voting (and partly by earnings). Chrono Genesis came out first in the balloting. Fierement ranked as the betting favorite for a time, but the money came in for Chrono Genesis, and the steely gray did not let her supporters down.
When the gate opened, Kiseki did not duplicate his front-running escapade from the Japan Cup. Thus Babbitt took up his role as the logical pacesetter on the rail, tracked by 2018 Arima Kinen champion Blast Onepiece, Authority, and Fierement who was posted wide throughout.
Chrono Genesis was settled in the latter part of the field until the backstretch. Regular rider Yuichi Kitamura then had her advance, and the favorite had reached striking position by the turn into the homestretch.
By that point, Blast Onepiece had given way abruptly and dropped back to last. His sudden retreat on the inside caused World Premiere, hitherto well placed behind him, to get shuffled back at a crucial point.
Straightening for home, Fierement made his bid for glory, only to be tackled by Chrono Genesis. The stamina-laden Fierement kept on doggedly, as though determined to test Chrono Genesis to the maximum in her first attempt at the about 1 9/16-mile trip. But the filly was up to the challenge, grinding her way past the dour stayer who also sported the Sunday Racing silks.
Chrono Genesis’s work was not done, though. Salacia flew from far back, registering a field-best :35.4 for the last 3 furlongs, to emerge a late danger. Chrono Genesis’s :36.2 sectional was enough to prevail by a neck, with Fierement the same margin astern in third.
Lucky Lilac checked in another 2 1/2 lengths back in fourth, giving Sunday Racing three of the top four finishers. World Premiere recovered enough to force a dead-heat for fifth with Curren Bouquetd’or, and Persian Knight motored in :36.2 to snatch seventh. Next came Crescendo Love, Ocea Great, Loves Only You, You Can Smile, Kiseki, Babbitt, Authority, and slow-starting Mozu Bello. Blasted Onepiece did not finish, and the JRA reported he was pulled up with atrial fibrillation.
Chrono Genesis clocked 2:35.0 on the firm course to improve her record to 13-7-2-3. A close second in the 2018 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1), she captured the 2019 Daily Hai Queen Cup (G3) en route to placing third in both the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1). Chrono Genesis broke through in the final fillies’ classic of 2019, the Shuka Sho (G1), and added the Feb. 16 Kyoto Kinen (G2) versus males before returning to the top level this summer and fall. Her Takarazuka Kinen/Arima Kinen double came just one year after Lys Gracieux swept both herself.
“She was in good form and gave us a great impression before the race,” Saito said. “I was worried that Yuichi might have made a too early bid, but he was confident and rode her beautifully, holding off the others.”
“All I wanted was her to be relaxed,” Kitamura said, “and her break wasn’t that bad. She was in hand and ran in the same rhythm as before. Yesterday and today, I was in 2,500 meter-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 (the colt Contrail and filly Daring Tact), but I hope she performs well and stays in the spotlight next season.”
Saito sounded upbeat about the future.
“This is a dream come true and I have a feeling there will be many more.”