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Japan's 61st Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) set for December 25th

Japan's 61st Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) set for December 25thThe countdown has begun, to not only the New Year, but also to one of the biggest days in the Japanese horseracing calendar: the 61st Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) will be staged on Sunday, Dec. 25 at Nakayama Racecourse in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.  The “dream race” looks sure to live up to its name again this year, with a number of factors combining to draw huge numbers of fans to the track again this Sunday. Even Santa Claus could be forgiven for taking the day off.
The race is run over 2,500 meters and is for 3-year-olds and above. There have been 18 nominations for a maximum field of 16 runners. It’s a race where fans vote for who they want to see run, and this time around, it’s the big, striding horse, Kitasan Black who tops the fans’ list, garnering over 130,000 votes. The race has been kind to market leaders in the past 10 years, with five first favorites and two second favorites winning. As for the age of the winners during the same period, four 4-year-olds have won, just beating out 3 and 5-year-olds, who have won three times apiece. So going by those statistics, the fans seem to know where they stand in putting Kitasan Black atop their list.
Big lead up races to the Arima Kinen include the Japan Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Cup, and Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), all Grade 1 races, and all run in the past couple of months. Prize money for this year’s Arima Kinen is a hefty 648 million yen in total, with 300 million yen going to the winner. Some great names, both horses and jockeys, have claimed the race in the past, and there have been six horses to win the race twice, the latest one being Orfevre, who won in 2011 and 2013. This year Gold Actor has the chance to join this elite group.
The race record time is held by Zenno Rob Roy, who won the race in 2004 in a time of 2 minutes, 29.5 seconds. The Arima Kinen, one of the world’s biggest races when it comes to betting turnover, will be Race 10 on the card at Nakayama on Sunday, and the runners line up at 15:25 local time.


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