Betting formidable fillies and mares in the Arima Kinen

December 24th, 2020

Japan’s final Group 1 turf race of 2020 will take place on Sunday (Saturday night in the U.S.), and it’s a good one. The 2,500-meter Arima Kinen (G1) at Nakayama boasts a purse of approximately $6 million, sufficient to attract a competitive field of 16 horses.

Absent from the mix are Japanese Triple Crown winners Almond Eye, Contrail, and Daring Tact, who ran 1-2-3 in the Japan Cup (G1) last month. But this is good news from a betting perspective, because it opens the door for less a heralded runner (presumably offering better odds) to take a turn in the spotlight.

Arima Kinen - Race 11 (1:25 a.m. ET)

Japanese classic winners #6 Kiseki and #13 Fierement are among the logical contenders. At one time or another, they’ve posted impressive form lines against Almond Eye in Group 1 races. Fierement, in fact, was last seen unleashing a furious late charge to finish just a half-length behind the superstar mare in the 2,000-meter Tenno Sho Autumn (G1).

But even without Almond Eye to reckon with, Kiseki and Fierement will still have their hands full squaring off against a deep group of fillies and mares. Three in particular appear capable of joining Daiwa Scarlet (2008), Gentildonna (2014), and Lys Gracieux (2019) on the list of recent female Arima Kinen winners.

Their credentials are formidable:

#7 Lucky Lilac is the veteran of the bunch with a quartet of Group 1 wins to her credit since 2017. A daughter of two-time Arima Kinen winner Orfevre, Lucky Lilac enters fresh off a tenacious victory in the 2,200-meter Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1). The only question is whether she’ll be as effective racing 2,500 meters—she’s been beaten in her two starts beyond 2,200 meters, albeit while facing elite competition.

#9 Chrono Genesis boasts an encouraging form line against Almond Eye, having battled to a close third-place effort in the Tenno Sho Autumn. Even though she was making her first start off a four-month break, Chrono Genesis managed to finish just half a length behind Fierement. Two starts back—at the tail end of a productive fall/winter/spring campaign—she trounced Kiseki by six lengths in the 2,200-meter Takarazuka Kinen (G1).

#10 Curren Bouquetd’or isn’t as accomplished as Lucky Lilac or Chrono Genesis; in fact, she’s yet to win a group stakes race of any kind. But the talented 4-year-old has used her tactical speed to place multiple times at the Group 1 level, most notably in the 2019 Japan Cup and Yushun Himba (G1, Japanese Oaks). Curren Bouquetd’or is technically 0-for-3 in 2020, but she enters off a gutsy fourth-place effort in the Japan Cup, where she was beaten a combined 1 1/2 lengths by the three Triple Crown winners.

In the absence of Almond Eye, Contrail, and Daring Tact, I’m keen to support Lucky Lilac, Chrono Genesis, and Curren Bouquetd’or in the trifecta, keying the latter two on top while spreading deeper underneath with Fierement, Kiseki, and #5 World Premiere.

Arima Kinen wagers

$1 trifecta: 9,10 with 7,9,10 with 5,6,7,9,10,13 ($16)
$1 trifecta: 9,10 with 5,6,7,9,10,13 with 7,9,10 ($16)
Total: $32

Good luck!