London, Dec 17


apanese racing fans are getting ready for the upcoming Arima Kinen, the final race of the year 2020. It will run at Nakayama Racecourse in Chiba on Sunday, December 27.

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Arima Kinen as an All-Star-Race

Arima Kinen is undoubtedly the most-anticipated and biggest racing event at the end of every year in Japan. It is one of the top Grade I flat horse races held annually around Christmas time by the Japan Racing Association (JRA). The sales record in 2019 boasted over 46.8 billion yen.

What makes Arima Kinen distinctive from other major races is a concept of fan voting. It is like an All-Star Game of horse racing. Each year, racing fans can select and vote for their favorite 10 runners among the top thoroughbreds of the year. The remaining 6 horses will be picked based on their total earnings record.

Arima Kinen and popularization of modern Japanese horse racing

Arima Kinen was created by Yoriyasu Arima, who played a key role in developing and popularizing horse racing in Japan. Arima was also known as the owner of a professional baseball team, the Tokyo Senators which was formed in 1936. Prior to his engagement in JRA, Arima was active in promoting baseball in ways such as building a baseball stadium and reviving pro-baseball in the post-war period. The first Japanese all-star baseball game was played in 1937, which was modeled after that of Major League Baseball.

During his time as the chairman of the JRA, Arima took steps to further bolster fan engagement and shaped the idea of a new race event. Creation of Arima Kinen was inspired by the All-Star Games of baseball. The first race "Nakayama Grand Prix" took place at Nakayama Racecourse upon its inauguration in 1956. Later, it was renamed to "Arima Kinen" in his honour, the name of which commemorates Yoriyasu Arima, and keeps his name until today.

In 1996, the sales revenue hit a record high at 87.5 billion yen, breaking the Guinness World Records of Japanese horse racing sales. In addition to the fan engagement feature, lack of big sporting events toward the end of year brings even non-racing fans together to join the excitement of this festival racing. Following years of success, Arima Kinen became Japan's favorite end of year tradition. The engaging experience combined with year-end festive feelings continue to make the race hold a special place among the Japanese people.

Arima Kinen’s special jinx for top pick

Despite being a turbulent year due to the covid-19 crisis, all the regular classic seasons were carried out in Japan. In the autumn season, a limited number of spectators were also allowed to return to the racecourse. This year was somewhat special in the history of Japanese horse racing as a substantial number of Japanese people turned to online betting via JRA-Net. It is likely that the unique Corona situation also brought more Japanese customers to bookmakers' horse racing.

For the 2020 Arima Kinen, Chrono Genesis gained top place in the fan voting. The rest of the runners selected by the votes include: Lucky Lilac, Fierement, Kiseki, World Premiere, Blast Onepiece, You Can Smile, Curren Bouquetd'or, Loves Only You, and Mikki Swallow. Another special thing about Arima Kinen is that the top picks have never finished in the first place in its long history. Japanese people are now getting excited to see if Chrono Genesis breaks this jinx and makes her victory this year.

What makes Arima Kinen so special for Japanese?

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