Arima Kinen An Early Christmas Feast

Do Deuce beating Equinox in the 2022 Japanese Derby | JRA


With the recent retirement of the world's top-rated racehorse Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) and with Triple Tiara heroine Liberty Island (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) spelling with destinations unknown for 2024, Sunday's G1 Arima Kinen is missing its top two votegetters. But the 2500-metre event, which easily attracts the largest single-race betting in the world on an annual basis, is certainly not lacking for quality.

While Equinox is not back to defend his title, a good deal of how to solve the contest from a pari-mutuel perspective goes through him. Do Deuce (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) is one of four runners pressing on to the Christmas Eve feature from the G1 Japan Cup, where Equinox had four lengths on Liberty Island. In the estimation of many, the 4-year-old–one of just two horses to finish ahead of the reigning Horse of the Year, in his case in the 2022 G1 Tokyo Yushun–would have been the one to beat in the G1 Dubai Turf in March, but was scratched and missed seven months. The bay was disappointing when seventh behind Equinox in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) in October and fell a bit short of expectations when only fourth in the Japan Cup. His connections still have not lost faith.

'[Jockey Yutaka] Take rode work last week and, as I'd thought, they really looked good together,” said trainer Yasuo Tomomichi. “Take said the horse had moved really well as usual. This will be his third start of the fall season but I don't think he's tired at all. I'd say he has improved quite a bit and there is no need for more work. Equinox is out of the picture now and I think any horse has a chance.”




Do Deuce is one of three Derby winners in the race, joining 2021 hero Shahryar (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Tastiera (Jpn) (Satono Crown {Jpn}). The former was a cracking third to Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 4 and was an intended runner in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase two weeks ago, but was a vet scratch. In spite of his obvious quality, the 5-year-old is no better than a 50-1 chance ante-post. Tastiera dropped a narrow decision to the sometimes mercurial Sol Oriens (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in April's G1 Satsuki Sho before turning the tables in the Derby. He exits a second–with Sol Oriens third–in the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) over 3000 metres Oct. 22.

No fewer than six fillies and mares feature in the 16-strong field, but two most-fancied have drawn the widest gates in a race that is run around three turns at Nakayama. Through Seven Seas (Jpn) (Dream Journey {Jpn}) put a bit of a scare into Equinox when flashing home for second in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen in June, after which it was announced that she'd be programmed for the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. A highly creditable fourth to Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}), she is capable if able to work out out a trip from barrier 15. Drawn widest is the oft-unlucky Stars on Earth (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}), who was unfortunate not to complete the 2022 Triple Tiara and looks to snap a frustrating streak of placings, including a latest third in the Japan Cup. Her late sire is also responsible for Titleholder (Jpn), a pacesetting ninth in this last year. Win Marilyn (Jpn) (Screen Hero {Jpn}), victorious in the 2022 G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup and an outstanding fourth to Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Nov. 4, makes the final start of her career and is the longest price at north of 115-1.

Adding further intrigue are the half-brothers Justin Palace (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), winner of the G1 Tenno Sho (Spring) over 3200 metres and third in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), and Iron Barows (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}), who punched his ticket to this with a victory in the G2 Stayers S. going 3600 metres of this course Dec. 2. The pair are half-brothers to recent Darley Japan import Palace Malice (Curlin).

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