Crowd favourite Kitasan Black bows out in style with Arima Kinen triumph
Report: Japan, Sunday
Nakayama: Arima Kinen (Grand Prix) (Grade 1) 1m4 1/2f turf 3yo+
There was a popular result in the Arima Kinen at Nakayama on Sunday with crowd favourite and Japan’s reigning horse of the year Kitasan Black ending his outstanding career with victory in the Grade 1 contest.
The ¥648,000,000 (£4.28 million/€4.82m) event invariably attracts the highest betting turnover of any race in the world and is also one of the most unusual with the field partly determined by votes from Japanese racing fans.
For the second year running, Kitasan Black was voted the fans' favourite, attracting nearly 125,000 votes and justified favouritism for trainer Hisashi Shimizu and jockey Yutaka Take at the third attempt in the race, which offers the joint highest prize-money in Japan along with the Japan Cup.
The five-year-old bowed out with a seventh top-level success, dictating the race from the front to make all and beat the Christophe Lemaire-ridden Queens Ring – who is also set to be retired – by a length and a half.
Kitasan Black’s Grade 1 wins
October 2015 Kikuka Sho, Kyoto
May 2016 Tenno Sho (Spring), Kyoto
November 2016 Japan Cup, Tokyo
April 2017 Osaka Hai, Hanshin
April 2017 Tenno Sho (Spring), Kyoto
October 2017 Tenno Sho (Autumn), Tokyo
December 2017 Arima Kinen, Nakayama
Kitasan Black became the winningmost horse in the history of racing in Japan in terms of prize-money thanks to Sunday's victory, which boosted his earnings to ¥1,876,843,000 (£12.4m/€14m), surpassing the ¥1,835,189,000 total of 2000 Arima Kinen winner T M Opera O.
Kitasan Black’s owner, singer Saburo Kitajima, said: “During the three years Black has run for me so many people have supported him and loved him – I couldn't be happier. I’m deeply moved because this was his last run. When I saw him rounding the last turn in front, tears naturally flowed."
More than ¥44,199,575,700 (£292m/€329m) was wagered on Sunday’s renewal, with more than 100,000 racegoers on course to cheer home the market leader.
It was a third victory in the race for Take, who steered Oguri Cap to win in 1990 and Deep Impact – a relation of Kitasan Black – in 2006.
Take said: “He ran a great race. I just concentrated on letting him run his race so there’d be no regrets on his final start. I was going to decide on the pace depending on his start but he broke really well so I just let him go the front without hesitation.”
Kitasan Black, last year’s Japan Cup winner, will be heading to Shadai Stallion Station for stud duties next year.
Ryan Moore rode last year’s Hong Kong Vase winner Satono Crown, who finished 13th of the 16 runners, while Hugh Bowman was third on last month’s Japan Cup hero Cheval Grand.
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