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Horse Racing

Yutaka Take Ties Arima Kinen Record with Fourth Victory in the Prestigious Race

The legendary jockey rode second favorite Do Deuce to a come-from-behind Arima Kinen triumph to match the winning standard set by Kenichi Ikezoe.

FUNABASHI, Chiba Prefecture ― With a masterful finish showcasing his wealth of racing experience and unshakeable poise, legendary jockey Yutaka Take guided Do Deuce to a half-length victory in the 68th Arima Kinen on Sunday, December 24.

It was the perfect early Christmas present for Take and his legions of fans. 

He earned a record-tying fourth win in the Japan Racing Association Grade 1 race also known as The Grand Prix. 

In doing so, Take matched Kenichi Ikezoe's mark. The latter claimed Arima Kinen wins in 2009, 2011, 2013 and '18 with Dream Journey, Orfevre (twice) and Blast Onepiece.

At Nakayama Racecourse, before an announced crowd of 53,454, Do Deuce and Take held off Stars on Earth, piloted by Christophe Lemaire, at the wire in an entertaining conclusion that triggered enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. Lemaire won his third Arima Kinen in December 2022 aboard Equinox to tie Take for second place on the Christmastime spectacle's all-time win list.

This time, Take and Heart's Cry-sired Do Deuce had the last word. And by the way, Lemaire's first Arima Kinen triumph was with Heart's Cry in 2005.

Take, who made his pro debut as a jockey in 1987, claimed his first win in the high-profile race in 1990 (Oguri Cap), then won it again in 2006 (Deep Impact). His third Arima Kinen victory came in 2017 with Kitasan Black.

For some context to the 54-year-old Take's longevity in his profession and remarkable success throughout his career, consider the following: Six of the 16 jockeys competing in Sunday's race were born after Take won the Arima Kinen for the first time.

Arima Kinen
Yutaka Take and Do Deuce (center) navigate a path to victory in the 68th Arima Kinen. (ⒸSANKEI)

Arima Kinen Rewind: The Final 200 Meters Determined the Outcome

As is often the case in a thoroughbred race, the closing seconds of Sunday's Arima Kinen were the most crucial time. 

The first 2-plus minutes were the preamble of the pivotal period.

Specifically, the last 200 meters. In that small chunk of space in the 2,500-meter race, Do Deuce competed against Stars on Earth for the top position as the two produced a riveting conclusion. (Watch the race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

With about 100 meters to go, Titleholder (Kazuo Yokoyama), who had built a commanding lead, slipped behind second favorite Do Deuce and Stars on Earth. 

Titleholder, whose retirement following the race was recently announced, finished one length behind the runner-up. The 5-year-old Duramente progeny completed the final three furlongs in 36.2 seconds, well off the pace set by Do Deuce (34.3 seconds) in that stretch. A retirement ceremony was held for Titleholder later in the day at the racecourse.

Race favorite Justin Palace, a son of Deep Impact guided by Takeshi Yokoyama (Kazuo's younger brother), secured a fourth-place finish with a speedy late charge. Justin Palace finished a head's length after Titleholder.

Shahryar (Kohei Matsuyama), another Deep Impact-sired colt, placed fifth, a neck's length behind Titleholder.

Third favorite Through Seven Seas, ridden by Ikezoe, finished 12th.

Arima Kinen
Yutaka Take has triumphed in the Arima Kinen in four straight decades. (SANKEI)

Take Shares Insights About Winning with Do Deuce

Early pacesetter Titleholder was in control for the majority of the race and led by eight lengths with 800 meters remaining. Do Deuce was near the middle of the pack. He was gaining ground on the frontrunners, too.

Looking back on Do Deuce's performance, Take said his horse was in a comfortable position to launch a strategic push ahead.

"It's great to come back with Do Deuce to win this race against some really strong opponents," Take said moments after his pulse-rising win, the 81st JRA G1 victory of his career (most among active jockeys). 

"He was in good shape coming into this race and although the colt was a bit keen [to set a fast pace early], I was able to get him to relax early. I had to keep him in hand and maintain a good rhythm and not let him rush and [I] gave him the go from about 700 meters out."

Was that the opportune time to do so?

"His response was very good rounding the last corner and [he] gave a terrific late charge to the wire," Take said of Do Deuce.

Arima Kinen
Do Deuce leads the pack en route to victory. (ⒸSANKEI)

The winning jockey added, "I had a lot of momentum coming around the final turn, so I knew we would be in the finish."

With a big smile on his face as he began his post-race interview and hearty applause punctuating the moment, Take admitted winning on Christmas Eve was a big deal for him.

"I've been fortunate enough to be on some very special horses, and races like this make me love this sport even more," Take said.

Arima Kinen
Do Deuce is paraded around the Nakayama Racecourse grounds after the race. (ⒸSANKEI)

It's just a shoe!

Did You Know?

Take rode Do Deuce for the first nine races of the thoroughbred's career. It included G1 victories in the 2021 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes and 2022 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). 

In Do Deuce's previous two starts, Keita Tosaki was the rider, and they teamed up for a seventh-place finish in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 29 and a third-place finish in the Japan Cup on November 26.

And then Take was given the assignment to sit on Do Deuce's saddle for the Arima Kinen.

It proved to be the right decision.

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi, who oversees Do Deuce's workouts, collected his 18th JRA G1 win.

A Look Ahead

The 2,000-meter turf race Hopeful Stakes is the JRA's final G1 event of 2023. It is on Thursday, December 28 and open to 2-year-olds (no geldings) at Nakayama Racecourse. Post time is 3:40 PM.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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