July 18, 2024

Efforia justifies favoritism in Arima Kinen

Efforia subdued Deep Bond and Chrono Genesis in the Arima Kinen (Copyright Japan Racing Association)

First in the fans’ voting and betting alike, 11-10 favorite Efforia concluded a stellar sophomore season in Sunday’s $6.1 million Arima Kinen (G1) at Nakayama. The son of Epiphaneia launched a well-timed move from midpack to extend his record to 6-for-7, his lone loss coming by a nose in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1). Arima Kinen runner-up Deep Bond and Chrono Genesis, third as the defending champion, were both returning from unplaced efforts in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Efforia’s regular rider, Takeshi Yokoyama, was becoming just the second jockey to emulate a father’s success in this race, according to the Japan Racing Association. The first winning father/son duo was Kunihiko and Yutaka Take.

Takeshi’s father, Norihiro Yokoyama, won the 1996 Arima Kinen aboard Horse of the Year Sakura Laurel. Still competing, Norihiro rode longshot Shadow Diva to a 12th-place finish in Sunday’s renewal. Adding to the familial atmosphere, Takeshi’s brother, Kazuo, guided the fifth home, Titleholder.

Carrot Farm’s Efforia was coming off another major victory over elders in the Oct. 31 Tenno Sho Autumn (G1), where he beat 2020 Triple Crown champion Contrail to the punch. Contrail complimented him by capturing the Japan Cup (G1) in his finale, and Efforia cemented his own championship claims here.

As Panthalassa blasted to a sizeable early lead, Titleholder captained the main body of the 16-strong field. Deep Bond was perched in a ground-saving sixth, while Efforia was shadowing 19-10 second choice Chrono Genesis slightly further back.

Titleholder was the first to grab Panthalassa turning for home, but Deep Bond was angling off the fence to offer his bid, and Efforia was kicking into gear. Not moving just yet was Chrono Genesis, and her rally would prove too little, too late.

Efforia pounced on Deep Bond, who dug in gamely in hopes of springing an upset at nearly 20-1. Yet Efforia had more in reserve to put away the four-year-old by three-quarters of a length. The Yuichi Shikato trainee negotiated about 1 9/16 miles on the firm course in 2:32.0.

Takeshi Yokoyama didn’t get the same feel from Efforia as in the Tenno Sho, but commented that his improved racing manners made the difference from his Derby loss:

“He wasn’t in the same perfect condition today as in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) in which he was 120%, but his potential proved he still could give a remarkable performance even with the added distance—2,500 meters was the longest he’s ever run. Unlike in the Derby, he was relaxed and positioned well and was able to show his true strength.”

Deep Bond held second by a half-length from Chrono Genesis. Making her final start, Chrono Genesis appeared a bit dour when outmoved by Stella Veloce, but she determinedly outfought him for third-place honors.

Nevertheless, fourth-placer Stella Veloce tied Efforia for the fastest final sectional, clocking about three furlongs in :35.9. Titleholder checked in fifth. Aristoteles, Akai Ito, Mozu Bello, You Can Smile, the retiring Kiseki, Win Kiitos, Shadow Diva, Panthalassa, Persian Knight, Melody Lane, and ever-trailing Asamano Itazura concluded the order of finish.

Efforia won both starts as a juvenile at about 1 1/4 miles, a newcomers’ event at Sapporo and a Tokyo allowance. The Feb. 14 Kyodo Tsushin Hai (G3) back at Tokyo served as his prep for the classics. In the Apr. 18 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1), Efforia stamped his class with a three-length conquest. That made him the 7-10 Derby favorite, but he was mugged by Shahryar on the line. Freshened for the fall, Efforia has resumed with a vengeance.

Northern Farm-bred Efforia is out of the Heart’s Cry mare Katies Heart, who is closely related to the dam of 2007 Japanese Horse of the Year Admire Moon. Efforia’s third dam, English highweight Katies, landed the 1984 Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) and Coronation (G2) and produced multiple Japanese champion Hishi Amazon.