• Funabashi, Chiba Pref.

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Takeshi Yokoyama rode No. 1 fan pick Efforia to victory in the 66th running of the Arima Kinen on Sunday, claiming the penultimate Grade 1 race on the 2021 Japanese racing calendar with a winner’s prize of ¥300 million yen ($2.6 million).

The three-year-old colt, this year’s Satsuki-sho and Tenno-sho winner, completed the 2,500-meter turf race at Nakayama Racecourse in 2 minutes, 32 seconds, crossing the line three-fourths of a length ahead of Deep Bond. Chrono Genesis finished third, a half-length farther back.

Defending champion and second-favorite Chrono Genesis, scheduled to be retired and bred in 2022, could not win the final race of her career. The five-year-old mare is a four-time G1 winner on the JRA circuit.

“(Efforia) did a 120% job when he won the Autumn Tenno-sho (on Oct. 31), and I couldn’t expect that, but I thought 80-90% would be good enough,” Yokoyama said.

“It was the longest distance we rode together, but he was relaxed when he needed to be. We kept a good rhythm until we entered the final stretch and closed well.”

The Arima Kinen consists of a field partially determined by a vote of fans and brings together many of Japan’s leading horses. Tuesday’s Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds at the same track is the last race on the calendar.

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