10/19/2011 2:44PM

Breeders' Cup: Sarafina switches target to the Turf


Overseas, Sarafina was the ante-post betting favorite in the weeks preceding the Oct. 2 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but on an crazily hot day in Paris, Sarafina burned up her backers cash, finishing seventh of 16 in the Arc. There were no apparent excuses during the race, but the unseasonably warm weather and unusually fast course conditions might have worked against Sarafina, and she will try to make amends next month at Churchill Downs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

That Sarafina is coming to the Breeders’ Cup is not news, but in the week after the Arc, it was the Filly and Mare Turf that was supposed to be her goal. But Sarafina is at least as good over the Turf’s 12 furlongs as she is at the Filly and Mare Turf’s 11, and she has faced males in five of her last six starts. Since the Turf does not appear to be coming up with one of its strongest fields this year, why not take a shot in the richer race?

Moreover, Sarafina’s trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre, knows what it takes to win the BC Turf, having captured the race’s 1984 edition with Lashkari. Lashkari came back the next season to run fourth in the Turf, and Royer-Dupre sent two more horses to the race in subsequent seasons, with Darara eighth in 1987 and Behera fourth in 1989. Behera, though, was Royer-Dupre’s most recent starter in a Breeders’ Cup Race.

Sarafina, a 4-year-old Aga Khan homebred by Refuse to Bend, has the credentials to be favored in Louisville. Her Arc seventh marked the first time in 10 starts she hadn’t finished third or better, and in 2010, Sarafina won the prestigious French Oaks. Before the Arc, she had won three straight races, including a neck victory in the June 26 Prix de Saint-Cloud over Cirrus des Aigles, the gelding who won the Group 1 Champion Stakes last weekend at Ascot in England.

In other Turf news, England-based Joshua Tree, the second-place finisher Sunday in the Canadian International at Woodbine, is now under consideration for the race.