December 6, 2021

Prix de l’Opera among four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Arc undercard

Mehdaayih and Robert Havelin win the Cheshire Oaks at Chester (c) Alan Wright-focusonracing.com

While all eyes are on Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), Sunday’s ParisLongchamp card is brimming with five other Group 1s. Four are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races, and the other promises to have implications for Santa Anita as well.

Here’s an overview of the action by Breeders’ Cup division.

FILLY & MARE TURF

The Prix de l’Opera (G1), the race immediately following the Arc, furnishes a berth in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Enable’s trainer, John Gosden, has the hot favorite this about 1 1/4-mile test as well in Mehdaayih. Since her troubled seventh as the 11-4 choice in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom, the Frankel filly rolled past Edisa in the Prix de Malleret (G2) and beat all bar Japanese globetrotter Deirdre in the Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood. Gosden also sends out the early second choice, Terebellum, who defeated Opera rivals Cartiem and Etoile in the Prix de la Nonette (G2).

Aidan O’Brien has entered three. Goddess had been playing catch-up over the summer, but her Snow Fairy (G3) win and closing second to the smart Tarnawa in the Blandford (G2) indicate she’s peaking now. Christophe Soumillon picks up the mount. The twice classic-placed pair of Fleeting (Wayne Lordan) and Pink Dogwood (Ryan Moore) on the other hand, were most recently fifth and eighth in the Prix Vermeille (G1).

Commes is two photo-finishes away from turning a classic double, just touched off in the Poule d’Essai de Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1) and Prix de Diane (G1), and the Jean-Claude Rouget pupil deserves one. Watch Me, the 20-1 upsetter of the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot, exits a fourth as the favorite to top older miler Romanised in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1). The Francis-Henri Graffard trainee is intriguing as she stretches out beyond a mile for the first time.

With You, the best of the older distaffers, was fourth in this race a year ago. Since adding blinkers for trainer Freddie Head, the George Strawbridge homebred has placed second to Laurens in the Prix Rothschild (G1) and to Coronet in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1). Godolphin’s Ligne d’Or outperformed her odds when snatching third in the Vermeille from sophomore Villa Marina, the Prix de Psyche (G3) winner who’s entitled to turn the tables back down in trip.

TURF SPRINT

A Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) spot is up for grabs in the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1), but odds-on favorite Battaash already booked his ticket with a course-record display in the Nunthorpe (G1). The 2017 Abbaye champion thereby enters in better heart than when dethroned in fourth here last October.

The 2018 Abbaye trifecta is also back on the scene – Mabs Cross, Gold Vibe, and Soldier’s Call, who nearly pulled off a rare coup as a two-year-old. Soldier’s Call and Mabs Cross were last seen succumbing to O’Brien sophomore fillies Fairyland and So Perfect (along with Invincible Army) in the “Win and You’re In” Flying Five (G1), while Gold Vibe exits a third to British fillies Glass Slippers and Shades of Blue in the course-and-distance Prix du Petit Couvert (G3). Sestilio Jet, fourth as the favorite in that prep, is probably happy with the rain since he’d garnered the Prix de Saint-Georges (G3) on heavy going here in May. Note that Gold Vibe’s connections have supplemented their better-fancied Spinning Memories in light of her dominant score in the Prix de Meautry (G3). Yet to try this short a dash, she could benefit if soft ground turns this into a stiffer test.

JUVENILE TURF

Arc Day begins with a pair of Group 1s for juveniles over the metric mile. The Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) as well as points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, although the latter doesn’t appear a probable target for this group.

The O’Brien-trained Armory brings the top form to bear as the runner-up, albeit distant, to high-flying Pinatubo in the Vincent O’Brien National (G1). Impressive in the Tyros (G3) on the way to a Futurity (G2) score on yielding, the Galileo colt arguably prefers a better surface, but the added ground is a plus.

Godolphin’s homebred Victor Ludorum has earned early favoritism on the strength of convincing wins in newcomers’ and conditions company, and the Andre Fabre colt will get his first serious class test here. Wertheimer et Frere’s homebred Ecrivain improved from a workmanlike Deauville debut to take the Prix des Chenes (G3), but must continue his upward curve.

Fabrice Vermeulen’s Chachnak has a stealthy look after going two-for-two in the provinces, and the Kingman colt looks overpriced at 25-1. Prix la Rochette (G3) winner Kenway was added at the supplementary stage, Helter Skelter steps up from a Deauville listed score, and Baden-Baden Group 3 hero Alson is cross-entered to Sunday’s Preis des Winterfavoriten (G3) at Cologne.

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF

Fillies go first in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) “Win and You’re In,” where Fabre blueblood Savarin seeks to remain perfect from three starts and Irish shipper Albigna looks to rebound from an excusable flop.

Savarin, a Japanese-bred daughter of Deep Impact and French classic-winning champion Sarafina, dismissed fellow debutantes at Deauville and handled the class hike in the course-and-distance Prix d’Aumale (G3). The respective third, fifth, and sixth – Flighty Lady, Nunzia, and Kenlova – try again, while Savarin’s stablemate, Godolphin’s Bionic Woman, steps up from a Saint-Cloud maiden score.

Jessica Harrington’s Albigna brought a two-for-two record into the Moyglare Stud (G1) during Irish Champions Weekend, only to sputter in sixth. It later turned out that she was in season, and if back in the form that propelled her to victory in the Airlie Stud (aka Balanchine) (G2), Albigna should give a better account. Marieta comes off a second to Tropbeau in the Prix du Calvados (G2), unbeaten Plegastell was supplemented after her Craon listed score, and the ambitiously placed maiden Fee Historique round out the cast.

MILE

The Prix de la Foret (G1), the final Group 1 and penultimate race on the program, does not come with any perks for the Mile (G1), but the about seven-furlong prize has historical resonance for the Breeders’ Cup.

Although defending champion One Master hasn’t won since her 33-1 upset last year, the William Haggas mare has a higher level of form to her credit in her return visit. A close fifth in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile, One Master has had a productive summer with a terrific third versus males in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot, a near-miss in the Falmouth (G1), and a fifth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) that’s a tad short for her. City Light propelled himself to early favoritism by capturing the local prep, the Prix du Pin (G3). His head loss in last summer’s Diamond Jubilee (G1) indicates he’s of this caliber, and the extra furlong is apparently a boon to him at this stage of his career.

Germany’s Waldpfad, who plundered the Hackwood (G3) at Newbury, is worth a long look after his third in a boggy Haydock Sprint Cup (G1). Commonwealth Cup (G1) runner-up Forever in Dreams, who came out of her Haydock flop with an illness, is eligible to rebound at a price. Sir Dancealot, a specialist at the trip, has landed the Lennox (G2) at Glorious Goodwood and the Park (G2) during Doncaster’s St Leger Festival. But soft ground could favor a couple who beat him in the Hungerford (G2), the victorious Glorious Journey and third-placer Safe Voyage. Recent Renaissance (G3) scorer Speak in Colours; Hey Gaman, a course-and-distance winner back in May in the Prix du Palais-Royal (G3); upwardly mobile filly Wasmya; and the respective runner-up and fourth from the Prix du Pin, Graignes and Marianafoot, complete the field.