July 25, 2024

Luxembourg favored in 20-strong Arc; five Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on tap

The coveted Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe trophy (Photo by Florian Léger/Share & Dare)

Europe’s fall championship, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), will be contested for the 101st time on Sunday. The marquee event among six Group 1s for Thoroughbreds at ParisLongchamp, the Arc is one of five Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races on the superb card.

Find more in-depth coverage on TwinSpires.com, where you can watch and wager on the Saturday and Sunday cards over Arc weekend.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) – Race 4 (10:05 a.m. ET), WAYI for BC Turf (G1)

Luxembourg will try to give Aidan O’Brien his third Arc winner, after Dylan Thomas (2007) and Found (2016). But they were older horses, and Luxembourg arrives amid a tale of two sophomore campaigns. The Camelot colt was sidelined by injury in the wake of his lone loss, a third in the 2000 Guineas (G1) that was programmed to tee him up for the Derby (G1). His class, and the first-rate horsemanship around Ballydoyle, got him back in the nick of time for the fall. Prevailing despite lack of fitness in his Royal Whip (G3) comeback, and improving markedly to win an Irish Champion (G1) well up to its lofty standard, Luxembourg could have still more up his sleeve as he tries about 1 1/2 miles for the first time. He’s well drawn in post 8 with Ryan Moore.

The rain has come for defending champion Torquator Tasso, who sprang one of the biggest upsets in Arc history on heavy going a year ago. But his old nemesis Alpinista has also come for him. The Sir Mark Prescott mare beat Torquator Tasso in the 2021 Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1) before their paths diverged. While Torquator Tasso has suffered losses in the interim, including seconds in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) and Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) in his last two, Alpinista has kept rolling in a seven-race winning skein. She’s added the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) and Yorkshire Oaks (G1) to her resume. The mare also got a plum draw in post 6, compared to Torquator Tasso marooned out in post 18.

The soft going is a question mark for the otherwise likeable Japanese contingent. Titleholder rates a threat with his forward style and deep reserves of stamina, as the hero of the 2021 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) (G1) and this year’s Tenno Sho Spring (G1). But his record-setting Takarazuka Kinen (G1) proves he’s no plodder. Reigning Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) winner Do Deuce warmed up with a better-than-appears fourth in the Prix Niel (G2) at this course and distance, while globetrotting stayer Stay Foolish was runner-up to Breeders’ Cup hopeful Botanik in the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2). Deep Bond, last in the 2021 Arc, hopes that shipping in fresh without a local prep works better.

Although Luxembourg leads the three-year-olds, the European classic brigade has other serious win candidates. Onesto and Vadeni were second and third, respectively, to him in the Irish Champion, but neither was seen to best effect at Leopardstown. Vadeni’s messy trip was a factor in ending his three-race winning streak, highlighted by the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1) and the Eclipse (G1) over a traffic-ridden Mishriff. But the Arc distance is a bigger question mark for Vadeni, as it is for his Jean-Claude Rouget stablemate, Al Hakeem. Onesto has no such worries, thanks to his course-and-distance victory in a Grand Prix de Paris (G1) that has held up well. Likewise, Irish Derby (G1) romper Westover, previously a troubled third at Epsom, has the credentials to bounce back from his King George flop.

Multiple Group 1 celebrity Mishriff was an unexpected participant, but the prolific money-winner could advertise himself for his upcoming French stud home. John and Thady Gosden interestingly add cheekpieces to the five-year-old, who’s placed in the Eclipse, King George, and Juddmonte International (G1) (to the supreme Baaeed) prior to a dour fourth in the Irish Champion.

Other notable older entrants include Group 1 veteran Mare Australis, representing the Arc’s all-time leading trainer, Andre Fabre; Mendocino, who dethroned Torquator Tasso at Baden-Baden last out; the high-class mare Grand Glory, whose third in the Prince of Wales’s (G1) and fifth in last fall’s Japan Cup (G1) prove her bona fides versus elite males; consistent placegetter Bubble Gift; Mishriff’s stablemate Mostahdaf, most recently successful in Kempton’s September (G3); Luxembourg’s Group 1-winning stablemate Broome, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up but likely employed in a pace-ensuring role here; Alenquer, twice unplaced since his career high in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) and now donning blinkers for William Haggas; and Sealiway, yet to return to his 2021 level when victorious in the Champion (G1) and fifth in the Arc.

Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) – Race 1 (8:15 a.m. ET), WAYI for BC Juvenile Turf (G1)

O’Brien relies on Prix de Cabourg (G3) winner The Antarctic, who’s placed to stablemate Blackbeard three times this season, capped by the Middle Park (G1) last weekend. Fellow Irish raiders Shartash and Pivotal Trigger have more to recommend them at this about seven-furlong trip. Shartash, the last horse to beat Blackbeard in the Railway (G2), was third in the Vincent O’Brien National (G1) on Irish Champions Weekend. Prix des Chenes (G3) third Pivotal Trigger previously won a salty maiden at Galway. The filly Tigrais hopes to confirm her Prix la Rochette (G3) score over Breizh Sky and Gamestop, while Vicious Harry and Belbek must improve to factor on the stretch-out. The Lagardere is a scoring race on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, but the Breeders’ Cup angle has the greater weight.

Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) – Race 2 (8:50 a.m. ET), WAYI for BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)

The French squad could be stronger in this prize over a metric mile, with unbeaten Wertheimer homebred Kelina, Prix du Calvados (G2) heroine Wed, and Juddmonte blueblood Ardent on the scene. But O’Brien’s Group 3 scorer Never Ending Story, third in the Calvados and fourth in the Moyglare Stud (G1) last out, is eligible to blossom over the added ground. Justify’s daughter Aspen Grove is on the upswing after a 66-1 maiden-breaker in the Newtownanner Stud (aka Flame of Tara) (G3), undefeated German Group 3 vixen Habana has appeal and Breege, Gan Teorainn, and Dandy Alys all sport Group 3 placings. Blue Rose Cen owns a course-and-distance win in the Prix d’Aumale (G3), and Shalromy split Kelina and Ardent before opening her own account.

Prix de l’Opera (G1) – Race 5 (10:50 a.m. ET), WAYI for BC Filly & Mare Turf (G1)

Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) and Nassau (G1) winner Nashwa looks to punch her ticket to Keeneland in this about 1 1/4-mile affair. Post 13 doesn’t help the Gosden filly, but two of her main rivals are even wider out – French Oaks near-misser La Parisienne in post 15 and Epsom Oaks (G1) scorer Tuesday on the furthest wing in 16. Much luckier at the draw was the Joseph O’Brien-trained Above the Curve; the Prix Saint-Alary (G1) and Blandford (G2) victress is in post 5. Not to be overlooked are Agave, the French Oaks fourth who hasn’t had the best of luck lately, but whose back class puts her in the frame, and Trevaunance, coming off consecutive Group scores versus fellow sophomores at Deauville. While the older distaffers are outnumbered, they bring quality in the form of My Astra, Ebaiyra, and Insinuendo.

Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1) – Race 6 (11:25 a.m. ET), WAYI for BC Turf Sprint (G1)

Defending champion A Case of You enters off form and with a fight on his hands, especially from the free-wheeling juvenile filly The Platinum Queen. The early favorite under a feathery 116 pounds, The Platinum Queen is eyeing the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) pending her performance in this about five-furlong straight scramble. The Richard Fahey pupil was runner-up to top sprinter Highfield Princess in the Nunthorpe (G1). Indeed, Highfield Princess looms even in absentia, with her form also represented by Flotus, New York City, Mooneista, Raasel, Castle Star, Caturra, and A Case of You. Tees Spirit has collateral form with her through his Abergwaun S. verdict. The line-up is enhanced by Berneuil, the two-time winner of the Prix du Petit-Couvert (G3), and the top two from the World Trophy (G3), Mitbaahy and Teresa Mendoza.

Prix de la Foret (G1) – Race 7 (12 p.m. ET)

Ballydoyle filly Tenebrism, who defeated males in the Prix Jean Prat (G1) back in July, reverts to that about seven-furlong trip while tackling elders here. The older male protagonist, Kinross, is homing in on a breakthrough Group 1 laurel after back-to-back wins in the City of York (G2) and Park (G2). Fourth in this race last year, the Ralph Beckett veteran traded decisions with sophomore filly Sandrine over the summer. Other three-year-old fillies with place claims are Malavath, best known stateside as the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf near-misser; Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1) upsetter Mangoustine; and Accakaba, not beaten far by Tenebrism and Highfield Princess. Completing the field are Prix du Pin (G3) scorer Fang; Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) runner-up New Energy; Japan’s Entscheiden, a surprising third here last fall; and sentimental rooting interest Goldistyle, daughter of three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) queen Goldikova. As Goldikova’s record illustrates, the Foret is a familiar stepping stone to the Mile.