May 21, 2019

Trio of Breeders’ Cup berths up for grabs on Arc undercard

While most of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Day festivities have Breeders’ Cup implications, three of Sunday’s Group 1s at ParisLongchamp are “Win and You’re In” events for their corresponding divisions.

The Prix de l’Opera (G1) has attracted a cast of 16 bidding for top honors including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) perk. Defending champion Rhododendron has gone the wrong way this season, and it would be further evidence of Aidan O’Brien’s preternatural powers if he can get her right again. Hence jockey Ryan Moore sticks with younger stablemate Magic Wand, the Ribblesdale (G2) winner who bounced back to form herself with a terrific near-miss in the Prix Vermeille (G1). Rounding out the Ballydoyle squad is Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) heroine Athena, coming off a decent fourth in the Irish Champion (G1).

Godolphin’s Wild Illusion, runner-up in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom and the Ribblesdale, was last seen upending the older Urban Fox in the Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood at this optimal 1 1/4-mile trip. Trained by Charlie Appleby, Wild Illusion has won on Arc Day before, in last year’s Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). Prix Rothschild (G1) victress With You, a full sister to 2014 l’Opera winner We Are, was beaten narrowly by Laurens in her last two attempts in the vicinity of this distance. The Freddie Head sophomore stretches out again after a third behind Alpha Centauri in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1).

The market rates Urban Fox as the best chance among the older distaffers, after having landed the Pretty Polly (G1) and just failed by a neck in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1). Andre Fabre’s Lady Frankel, fourth in the Romanet, could be sitting on a big effort in her third start off the layoff. A near-miss third to Rhododendron in the 2017 l’Opera, Lady Frankel was sidelined until a pleasing second in a Deauville listed race in July.

Sir Michael Stoute interestingly gives three-year-old Desert Diamond a shot at the majors despite being overturned as the favorite last time in the Snow Fairy Fillies’ S. (G3) at the Curragh. The Juddmonte homebred has won both of her tries at about 10 1/2 furlongs, so the Dubawi filly out of a half-sister to Powerscourt, from the immediate family of Frankel, has an unexposed look. Other sophomores tackling the older generation include Castellar, successful in the Prix de la Nonette (G2); Prix de Psyche (G3) scorer Homerique, a close third to Laurens in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1); the German Oaks (G1) one-two Well Timed and Night of England; and My Sister Nat, wheeling back from a career high in the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon (G3).

Both of the juvenile contests over the metric mile are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, with the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) offering a spot in the Juvenile Turf (G1) and the additional boon of points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby. O’Brien has whittled down his prospective entrants to just one, Broome, who must improve off his recent second to Madhmoon in the KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2). The son of Australia also has to overcome his tendency to break slowly.

In the absence of O’Brien’s antepost favorite Anthony Van Dyck, the market has rallied around Head’s unbeaten Anodor. The Anodin colt has demonstrated good tactical speed in both of his starts, handily defeating Persian King (who’s since romped in his next two) in their Deauville debut and controlling the pace throughout in the course-and-distance Prix des Chenes (G3). Wertheimer et Frere’s homebred Shaman, third in the Chenes, probably would appreciate some pace help.

Also gathering plenty of early support is undefeated Boitron from the Richard Hannon yard. The French-bred by Le Havre looked potentially very smart when rolling in his Newbury debut over subsequent two-time winner Fox Coach. Conceding weight all around against a less inspiring group in a Doncaster novice, Boitron added the Denford (aka Washington Singer) to earn his crack at a higher level. He also had a Dewhurst (G1) entry, but this looks a more winnable spot.

Godolphin’s Royal Marine beat a good opponent in his Doncaster maiden, Turgenev, but the Saeed bin Suroor trainee had the advantage of an educational race under his belt. Ffos Las maiden winner Dark Jedi, second in the Stonehenge and in an Ayr novice for Charlie Hills, appears in deep.

The companion Prix Marcel Boussac, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), features Rocques, who extended her record to three-for-three in the local prep, the Prix d’Aumale (G3), for Fabrice Chappet.

O’Brien fields an obvious classic prospect in Pink Dogwood, a full sister to reigning Irish Derby (G1) hero Latrobe. The Camelot filly bumped into a couple of useful ones when second to Lady Kaya and Trethias in her first two starts, but slammed a Gowran Park maiden by seven lengths last time.

Godolphin is double-handed with d’Aumale runner-up Ceratonia and Dubai Beauty. Appleby’s Ceratonia won first up in an Ascot novice and might well benefit from her initial stakes experience. She can point to the precedent set by half-sister Wild Illusion, who placed in the d’Aumale before turning the tables in the Boussac. Saeed bin Suroor’s Dubai Beauty likewise scored in her unveiling in a novice, in fast time at Newmarket, only to flop as the favorite in the May Hill (G2). The Frankel filly is clearly better than that. May Hill runner-up Star Terms has been supplemented by Hannon. A daughter of Sea the Stars and 2011 Queen Mary (G2) victress Best Terms, Star Terms broke her maiden at Newbury and successfully carried top weight in a Newmarket novice.

Matematica, just denied in a photo in her debut over course and distance, is eligible to move forward second out for Carlos Laffon-Parias. Vichy listed winner Lily’s Candle exits a fourth in the Prix La Rochette (G3) to Team Valor’s Juvenile Turf contender The Black Album, and Lagrandecatherine was most recently runner-up in the Prix du Calvados (G2).