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Japan's great Orfevre inducted into JRA Hall of Fame

Japan's great Orfevre inducted into JRA Hall of FameThough he was retired from racing at the end of 2013, Orfevre once again beat the competition earlier this week when he clinched a spot in the JRA Racing Hall of Fame. Though the two never met on the racetrack, the 2011 Triple Crown champion topped his main opposition, the champion sprinter Lord Kanaloa. In doing so, he secured his place among the hallowed as the 31st horse to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.Throughout his career, Orfevre shone brightly, except for two races best considered flukes. Jumping to the graded level from his third start, Orfevre never raced in anything less than a G2 from his sixth start and from then, except for his 11th-place finish in the  2012 Tenno Sho (Spring), when he went wide turning for home, did he ever miss the top two spots.

In his career in Japan, he captured six top-level races, including the country’s Triple Crown comprised of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger). He secured six other wins at home as well, including double Arima Kinens  (G1; 2011, 2013) and the Takarazuka Kinen (G1). He missed the 2012 Japan Cup (G1) by a nose, losing to the at-the-time 3-year-old Gentildonna, who carried 4 kg less. From his total 17 starts in Japan, he also tallied three more seconds and a third.

In 2012 and 2013, the chestnut son of Stay Gold notched back-to-back second-place finishes in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp in what could be considered for Japan, which has yet to win the Arc, two of the most frustrating losses in the nation’s racing history. Though if it is any consolation, the fields were strong and big, the winning margin but a neck in 2012, and Orfevre lost both years to weight-advantaged fillies. Orfevre did conquer Longchamp fields twice, however, in the Prix de Foy (G2), his Arc preliminary in both years.

The now 7-year-old Orfevre enters the Hall of Fame on the heels of El Condor Pasa, who capped his career with a second-place finish half a length behind Montjeu in the 1999 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Unlike El Condor Pasa, who was only inducted last year after voting procedures were changed, Orfevre was able to quickly clinch the required more than three-fourths of the votes placed this year, his first year to be nominated.

In Hall of Fame voting, each voter is allowed four votes, raised from two apiece as of last year. Orfevre won 188 votes, an outstanding 95.9 percent of the votes from 196 persons. Lord Kanaloa, who also won six G1 races and never finished out of the top three spots, received only 119 votes. El Condor Pasa finally gained entry to the Hall of Fame last year with 80 percent of the votes.

Orfevre, who is out of the Mejiro McQueen mare Oriental Art, was bred by Shadai Corporation Inc. He is owned by Sunday Racing Co. Ltd. and stands stud duty at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.

Shunsuke Yoshida of Sunday Racing Co. Ltd. said, “I want to express my thanks for Orfevre being selected as a Hall of Fame inductee. It is a great honor to have him inducted into the Hall of Fame to stand alongside other Triple Crown champions that have come before him.

“I would like for all those who contributed, to all connections, firstly trainer [Yasutoshi] Ikee, and the fans who cheered him on, to bask together in this glory.”

Yoshida also noted, “The year after next, his first crop will make their debut and I would be delighted if you would lend them your support as you did Orfevre.”

Orfevre’s trainer, the Ritto-based Yasutoshi Ikee, commented on the induction.

“For me, it is a huge honor to have Orfevre selected as a member of the Hall of Fame. And at the same time, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all those fans who gave Orfevre their support.

“There was his perfect conquest of the Triple Crown as a 3-year-old but also his headstrong move in the backstretch of the Hanshin Daishoten (G2).

“He was a horse that gave us many varied memories,” the 46-year-old Ikee said.

“But, I think the memories that most stay with us are his 2012 run in the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) when he came so close to achieving the pinnacle of racing and his last run Arima Kinen (G1), a performance that just how big a cut above he was.

“He wasn’t able to realize our dream of winning the Arc, but it is my belief that his children will carry on that dream and I ask you to please give your continued support to Orfevre in his new career at stud.”

On Monday, Oct. 12, the 10th race on the card at Kyoto Racecourse, usually run as the Ohara Stakes, will be named the Hall of Fame Selection Memorial, Orfevre Memorial. An induction ceremony with interviews of Orfevre’s connections will be held the same day during the noon break in the Kyoto winner’s circle.

Special racing programs on the day will be available at both the Tokyo and Kyoto racecourses.

(SOurce: Japan Racing Association)

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