Three of the winners of Breeders’ Cup Challenge events on Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) undercard are actively considering the offer, according to connections.
Prix de l’Opera (G1) heroine Tarnawa could advance to the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), while the victorious 2-year-olds Sealiway and Tiger Tanaka might venture to Keeneland for their respective engagements. The Prix de la Foret (G1) did not carry “Win and You’re In” status, but that’s no issue for three-peater One Master, whose trainer William Haggas is already looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup.
Before delving into the undercard stakes, two key factors warrant mention. The heavy going at ParisLongchamp clearly suited some more than others, and a few races were missing major O’Brien contenders thanks to contaminated feed from their GAIN supplier. Aidan O’Brien, and sons Joseph and Donnacha, withdrew their runners en masse so that they wouldn’t risk returning positive tests.
Prix de l’Opera – Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf
The Aga Khan’s homebred Tarnawa remained perfect from three starts this campaign by collaring favored sophomore Alpine Star late. Trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, the daughter of Shamardal was reserved well off the pace dictated by Tawkeel. The tracking Alpine Star was all out to get past Tawkeel down the lane, and just as she finally wore down the longtime leader, Tarnawa stayed on to deny her in the waning strides.
Audarya also loomed in a close third on the inside, with Tawkeel a stubborn fourth of 12. The notable absentee was Donnacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue, winner of the French Oaks (G1) over Alpine Star.
Tarnawa, who negotiated about 1 1/4 miles in 2:12.87, was turning back in trip after a pair of victories going 1 1/2 miles. The 4-year-old made a belated reappearance in the Aug. 8 Give Thanks (G3) at Cork, where she successfully defended her title from Cayenne Pepper, and dominated the Prix Vermeille (G1) here last out.
“To have won a Group 1 here on Arc trials day, the Prix Vermeille, and to come back here and win the Prix de l’Opera – she is a really tough and courageous filly,” the trainer’s son-cum-assistant Mark Weld commented.
“We will have to discuss plans with His Highness and all the team. She gets a free entry now in to the Breeders’ Cup. It’s definitely a possibility.”
Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
Without Ballydoyle’s favored St Mark’s Basilica, Sealiway ran riot over just four opponents in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). Jockey Mickael Barzalona learned from his previous ride aboard the Galiway colt when second in the course-and-distance Prix la Rochette (G3), and got him involved early per trainer Frederic Rossi’s instructions. Sealiway sluiced through the ground, leaving odds-on favorite Nando Parrado eight lengths adrift while covering about 7 furlongs in 1:23.49.
“Frederic Rossi told me to make it a true test from some way out and the pace was standard,” Barzalona said. “The front runner (Cairn Gorm) soon weakened in the straight. So I took advantage by making a forward move.
“The last time I rode him, I didn’t know him and thought I was going to win easily. He gives the impression of traveling very easily, but without the required turn of foot. On the hand, he tends to pick up steadily.”
“I told Mickael Barzalona to give him an energetic ride,” Rossi said. “He’s a very tough type but isn’t the sort that can produce a sudden burst of acceleration.”
The Lagardere is on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, but that’s a moot point for Sealiway. Rossi has already mentioned the French 2000 Guineas (G1) as the logical classic aim for the Haras de las Gousserie and Guy Pariente runner.
“He will be heading for the Poule at three. However, his season hasn’t (necessarily) ended, as it’s possible that he may go on his travels. We’re thinking in terms of the Breeders’ Cup.”
Prix Marcel Boussac – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
Rossi’s nephew Charley followed up by sending out Tiger Tanaka to upset a more competitive Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). Adding to the family atmosphere, Tiger Tanaka was piloted by the trainer’s wife, Jessica Marcialis, who became the first female to ride a Group 1 winner on the French Flat.
Marcialis made the right split-second decision when charting a course in the stretch, and thereby avoided a messy traffic snarl that compromised several. Not so fortunate were favored Fev Rover, the eventual fourth, and King’s Harlequin, whose day was effectively over as she retreated to 11th of 12.
Meanwhile, Tiger Tanaka drove to the lead and kept finding to hold off Tasmania in 1:43.13 for the metric mile. It’s worth wondering how Joseph O’Brien’s soft ground aficionado, Pretty Gorgeous, might have fared.
“Today we wanted to keep her calm,” Marcialis said. “She was nice and switched off and then when the gap came she really accelerated. She just started to pull herself up 200 meters out, but when Tasmania came alongside, she took off again.”
The ex-claimer, acquired for €23,789 out of her debut score at Lyon-Parilly by Miguel Castro Megias, is now 6-for-7 with her lone loss a close third versus males in the Prix Robert Papin (G2). The Clodovil filly was coming off a victory in the Prix Francois Boutin (G3).
“She is now qualified for the Breeders Cup – we could be tempted to have a go,” Charley Rossi said.
Prix de l’Abbaye – Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
Second when trying about 5 furlongs for the first time in the Prix du Petit Couvert (G3), Al Shaqab Racing’s Wooded still appeared to find this trip a bit sharp, but responded to every call from Pierre-Charles Boudot to edge defending champion Glass Slippers by a neck in :58.52.
Racing on the rail likely helped Wooded, compared to Glass Slippers who was grinding away from post 10. Liberty Beach, in the vanguard throughout, rounded out the three-way tussle to the line. Petit Couvert winner Air de Valse set the contentious pace before stalling to sixth.
“I was roaring! I am over the moon for him, he’s a horse I love,” Wooded’s trainer Francis-Henri Graffard raved. “It has been tough all season with him. I wanted to send him to Royal Ascot (for the Commonwealth Cup [G1]) but we were unable to travel – I was gutted.
“Today the plan was to run him over 1,000 (meters) to toughen him up for next year, but he’s only gone and won. He galloped last week on the soft ground and “PC” (Pierre-Charles Boudot) said to me that he was a completely different horse. Well done to “PC” who has always said he is fast and well done to the team at home!”
By Wootton Bassett, Wooded was twice Group 3-placed over 7 furlongs as a juvenile, but broke through at about 6 panels in his sophomore bow in the Prix Texanita (G3). He was beaten a little more than three lengths when unplaced in the Prix Jean Prat (G1) and Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), and shortening up has helped. Graffard’s comments intimated that he was more committed to mapping out 2021 than an American gambit.
“He’ll be a nice sprinter for next year.”
Prix de la Foret
While Enable’s attempted hat trick in the Arc didn’t come off, fellow British mare One Master was able to make history with a third consecutive tally in the Foret. Lael Stables’ homebred caught Godolphin’s favored Earthlight, who nearly went wire to wire until One Master imposed upon him by a neck. Safe Voyage was another short head away in third, and all three could take their show to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
The William Haggas trainee clocked about 7 furlongs in 1:24.75 to give Boudot back-to-back Group 1s on the card.
“I am extremely happy to be associated with this mare, and we have won three great editions of this race together,” Boudot said. “Today was never going to be easy but she is tough and always gives her best, she’s very courageous. This is the third year in a row that the ground is in her favor and we have taken advantage of that.
“She is a real princess – you just have to ask her to accelerate. I was never in too much doubt. I tried not to get there too early with her because she finds the straight very long here. When the horse on the outside came with a challenge, she knew exactly what to do.”
One Master, a 6-year-old by Fastnet Rock, had recently missed by an inch to Ballydoyle’s Wichita in the Park S. (G2) during Doncaster’s St Leger Festival. Ballydoyle’s intended runner here, Lope Y Fernandez, had claims from his close placings in the Jean Prat and Maurice de Gheest, but the inconsistent type would have needed to perform at his absolute best.
The Breeders’ Cup’s return to Kentucky is an inviting proposition for Haggas. One Master had tried the 2018 Mile at Churchill Downs, where she went down by all of a length in fifth.