Triple Oaks star Enable, supplemented to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) as expected on Wednesday, tops a field of 18 set on Thursday. The John Gosden trainee remains odds-on for the about 1 1/2-mile championship with most bookmakers, although she’s up to even-money with Paddy Power. Should she extend her winning skein here from post 2, Enable would give jockey Frankie Dettori a record fifth Arc trophy.
Since my early look at the Arc, there have been two more defections, chief among them last year’s runner-up, Highland Reel. As feared, soft conditions are already prevailing at Chantilly, with more rain on the way. The Aidan O’Brien money-spinner can’t get traction on that kind of ground, as illustrated once again when only fourth behind Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) last time out July 29. Still, one might have thought that after swerving the Irish Champion (G1), Highland Reel would at least have gone through the motions here.
At this writing, it’s unclear what the plans are for the reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) hero, whether Highland Reel will try to get in a race somewhere or just head straight to Del Mar. O’Brien also removed Cliffs of Moher from the Arc, leaving “just” five Ballydoyle runners.
Ryan Moore has opted to ride Winter (post 8), despite the fact that the dual Guineas heroine has yet to be tested at the Arc distance. Moore’s choosing her in preference to Order of St George (post 9 with Donnacha O’Brien aboard), Capri (post 15, Wayne Lordan), Idaho (post 7, Seamie Heffernan), and Seventh Heaven (post 17, Pat Smullen) makes the three-year-old filly the latest market mover of the O’Brien quintet.
“Winter is a high-class filly who has won four Group 1s and has won on the soft,” Moore told Racing Post. “None of us know if she’ll stay a mile and a half until we try.”
On the plus side, Winter stayed very well on bottomless going in Goodwood’s 1 1/4-mile Nassau (G1). But she had also been in the mix for the Prix de l’Opera (G1) at that trip on the Arc undercard, so the decision to go for the brass ring wasn’t an easy one. The daughter of Galileo, out of a sprinter in 2010 Wokingham winner Laddies Poker Two, is taking an unusual route to Chantilly. Missing some training time due to a foot bruise after the Nassau, Winter warmed up with a near-miss at even-money in the one-mile Matron (G1). While her fitness has surely come on for that run, her preparation for the biggest challenge of her career is unorthodox.
Winter is now trading as the third choice at around 8-1, overtaking Order of St George. Sir Michael Stoute’s Ulysses (generally 7-1), who drew the rail, is still second in the market. Antepost money has likewise been coming in for Germany’s Dschingis Secret (12-1), the Prix Foy (G2) winner who acts well on heavy going and will break from post 10. The two leading French contenders are Brametot (12 or 14-1), drawn in post 4, and Zarkava’s son Zarak (hovering around 16-1), handed the widest post of all in 18. Capri is splitting them in the early betting. One who might have been expected to garner more attention, Japan’s Satono Diamond (20 or 25-1) (post 13), isn’t gaining any steam between his subpar fourth in the Foy, ground worries, and a reportedly lackluster final workout.
Cloth of Stars (post 3) is a big price for an Andre Fabre Group 1 winner at 33-1, and Idaho and Seventh Heaven are generally in the same neighborhood. Fabre’s other hopefuls, Doha Dream (post 12) and Plumatic (post 14), are among the rank outsiders, alongside Iquitos (post 6), One Foot in Heaven (post 11), Silverwave (post 16), and Satono Diamond’s pacemaker, Satono Noblesse (post 5).
Carded as the 4TH race Sunday, the Arc is scheduled to go off at 10:05 a.m. (EDT).
Kicking off the Arc Day festivities at 8:10 a.m. is the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) over a metric mile. O’Brien sends out Magical and September against a home team led by Polydream, Soustraction, Efaadah, and Zonza as well as Germany’s Narella.
The Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) (8:45 a.m.) at the same trip, a points race on the “European Road to the Kentucky Derby” as well as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event for the Juvenile Turf (G1), shapes up as a Godolphin versus Coolmore battle of the sexes. Charlie Appleby’s colts Masar and Mythical Magic take on O’Brien’s filly Happily, who’s joined by stablemate Rostropovich. The likeliest to interrupt the story line is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Olmedo.
With the Arabians taking over for the 3RD race prior to the Arc, Thoroughbred action resumes with the 5TH, the Prix de l’Opera (10:50 a.m.). The “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) could attract as many as 15, pending final declarations on Friday. Reigning Filly & Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust is on the list, but she needs much firmer ground. Rhododendron leads a three-pronged entry from O’Brien along with Hydrangea and Rain Goddess, while Arc withdrawal Left Hand, Senga, Lacazar, Wuheida, and Shamreen are prominent contenders.
The Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) (11:35 a.m.) is expected to draw defending champion Marsha, last seen nipping Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe (G1), who would prefer better going. Her rivals in the about five-furlong dash down the straight include Battaash, Signs of Blessing, Profitable, the O’Brien pair of Alphabet and Washington DC, Son Cesio, Finsbury Square, and sophomore fillies Fashion Queen and Queen Kindly.
The about seven-furlong Prix de la Foret (G1) (12:15 p.m.) is missing reigning titleholder Limato, who was already ruled out on account of the soggy conditions. Last year’s runner-up, Karar, hopes to go one better but faces prime opposition from Zelzal, Aclaim, Inns of Court, and Brando if back to his best.