10/02/2011 11:14AM

Arc: German filly Danedream leads one-two-three finish for females


It was ladies day Sunday in sub-tropical Paris, where the autumn temperature ranged near 80 degrees and the German filly Danedream turned in a red-hot performance, leading a female sweep of the top three places in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Huge longshot Shareta managed to hold second over closing Snow Fairy, but Danedream was in a class of her own Sunday. Seventh turning into the Longchamp stretch, Danedream surged  into contention when asked for run by jockey Andrasch Starke a quarter-mile from the finish. Three-hundred meters out she had reached St. Nicholas Abbey, who took the lead at the top of the stretch, and a furlong from the finish Danedream had powered into the clear. She crossed the line five lengths in front, the largest winning margin since Sakhee’s six-length tally in 2001, and her winning time of 2:24.49 bettered Peintre Celebre’s race record clocking of 2:24.60 from 1997.

The fast time had much to do with turf baked far firmer than Arc-normal by unusually hot fall weather in Paris. But Danedream did her part to make the most of the conditions. While just a couple lengths separated second place from eighth, Danedream proved far superior on this day, becoming the first German winner of the Arc since Star Appeal in 1975. Her win was the first in a French Group 1 of any sort for veteran jockey Andrasch Starke and trainer Peter Schiergen. Danedream was supplemented to the race earlier this week at a cost of about $137,000. Gestut Burg-Eberstein purchased Danedream, a daughter of deceased top German sire Lomitas, for less than $13,000 at auction. Japanese owner Teruya Yoshida bought a half-share in Danedream late this week.

Danedream became the 15th 3-year-old to win the Arc in the last 18 years, and was the first 3-year-old filly to win since the mighty Zarkava in 2008. Zarkava already had an immense following by the time of her Arc win, but Danedream surprised many this year, going off at odds of 24-1 in North American betting. If few saw this sort of performance coming it was because Danedream never had beaten horses the quality she faced in the Arc, and it took some projecting to imagine her winning a race of this stature. The raw material clearly existed. Danedream had won Germany’s top race, the Grosser Preis von Baden by six lengths in her most recent race, that following a similarly dominant score in a lesser German Group 1. The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf had been Danedream’s main autumn goal, but Danedream won the Grosser Preis von Baden with such ease and trained so well out of that start that her connections decided the Arc might be within her scope.

Especially remarkable was the way Danedream performed in her last two races given such divergent course conditions. Heavy rain turned the Baden-Baden course into a bog the afternoon of the Grosser Preis von Baden; the Longchamp turf Sunday sat at the other end of the spectrum. Breaking from post 2, Danedream was away decently, racing fifth during the early stages before settling back in seventh around the race’s one long turn as Treasure Beach raced several lengths in front, tracked by longshots Shareta (99-1) and Testosterone (70-1). St. Nicholas Abbey was the first to move, taking the lead about 2 ½ furlongs out, but Danedream, coming quickly between horses a quarter-mile from the finish, made the decisive run. Danedream, now a winner in 5 of 12 starts, would not have to be supplemented to the Breeders’ Cup, and her presence in the Turf next month would enhance the event.

So You Think, racing much farther behind the pace than usual, rallied steadily to finish fourth, the first male under the wire. His trainer, Aidan O’Brien, hinted afterward that the BC Classic could be in the offing.

St. Nicholas Abbey held on for fifth, followed by Meandre and Sarafina, the race favorite. Sarafina had no apparent trouble and finished at one pace. Galikova, the well backed younger sister of Goldikova, had to check along the rail on the turn but had no stretch punch, finishing ninth. Workforce, the 2010 Arc winner, had trouble in a couple spots, never came close to threatening, and finished 12th.