The Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2200m) is quickly becoming one of my favorite Japanese G1 races. Just like it’s sister race, the Arima Kinen (G1, 2500m), 10 of the entries are determined by popular vote. The 10 most popular horses are determined with a fan vote. Those horses get a free spot in the gate if they want to/can run in the race. So the field is almost always chock full of the best horses Japan has to offer. Just like last year, the #1 most popular horse in Japan is Buena Vista.
The past two winners have turned out to be some very good horses. The 2009 winner was Dream Journey. He went on to win the Arima Kinen later that year over Buena Vista. He is also the full brother to current triple crown hopeful, Orfevre.
In 2010 the winner was Nakayama Festa, who went on to finish a thrilling second to Workforce in the Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2400m). He won the Takarazuka Kinen last year over four time G1 winner Buena Vista, 2008 two year old champion Seiun Wonder, 2008 Derby winner Logi Universe, 2009 Emperors Cup Spring winner Jaguar Mail, and three time G1 winner Dream Journey.
This year’s renewal is just as exciting. We have the current Horse Of The Year, five time G1 winning mare, three time G1 winning horse, 2008’s champion 2 year old who also won the 2009 Japan Cup, the 2010 Derby winner, the 2007 Kikuka Sho winner, and a slew of other G2 & 3 winners and graded stakes placed horses.
Another reason I am so excited about the Takarazuka Kinen is that for the first time it is being run as a Breeders Cup Challenge race for the Breeders Cup Turf (G1, 2400m). So as an American and as an racing fan, I am very excited!