10/03/2014 2:36PM

Contention runs deep in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe


First Treve, then Taghrooda, later Sea the Moon, and now a horse named Ectot – those have been the ante-post betting favorites for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Such shifting favoritism speaks clearly: The Arc is wide-open this year, the 20-horse field a captivating mix of 3-year-olds and older horses, fillies and colts, French, English, German, and Japanese runners.

Which is as it should be. The Arc, at about $6.2 million, is the world’s richest grass race. The 2014 renewal comes Sunday at Longchamp, the race scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Eastern under good weather and over good turf.

There are seven fillies and mares and 13 colts and horses in the 1 1/2-mile Arc, run around right-handed bends. Weight plays a significant role: Older horses carry 131 pounds, 3-year-old fillies a feathery 120. Three-year-olds have won the race in 16 of the last 20 years, and 3-year-old fillies have won two of the last three. In 2013, it was Treve, who blasted home such an impressive winner that as her 2014 campaign began, a repeat Arc bid was already being eagerly anticipated.

But there has been no repeat Arc winner in 35 years, and Treve looks unlikely to end that drought. She has battled foot and back problems – issues her trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek said Treve has adapted to rather than shed – and Treve is 0 for 3 in 2014. She was just fourth in the Prix Vermeille, her Arc prep, and is unlikely to get the softer ground that she prefers Sunday.

There are five 3-year-old fillies in the race, including Taghrooda, who probably would be the defined favorite had she not taken a shocking loss in her most recent start, the Aug. 21 Yorkshire Oaks. Taghrooda leveled her competition in the Epsom Oaks and went on to easily beat older horses in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but she was narrowly defeated in the Yorkshire Oaks by Tapestry, who was supplemented to the Arc on Thursday.

Trainer John Gosden, who seeks his first Arc win, repeatedly has said that Taghrooda was found to be coming into season, which might excuse her Yorkshire defeat, and she is a proven, high-class commodity over 12 furlongs on good going, though post 15 is wider than ideal.

Another 3-year-old filly, Avenir Certain, enters unbeaten in seven starts, two at the Group 1 level, but none longer than 1 5/16 miles, and her regular rider, Gregory Benoist, chose Ectot over her.

The 3-year-old filly Harp Star is one of three Japanese horses entered and rates a serious chance. Four times first and twice second in six starts, Harp Star was left too much to do in her only 1 1/2-mile try, the Japanese Oaks, finishing a hard-charging second. Far, far back in her early races, Harp Star moved earlier and successfully in beating fellow Arc runner Gold Ship in the Sapporo Kinen on Aug. 24.

The third Japanese invader is Just As Well, who made his international mark brilliantly in winning the Dubai Duty Free by more than six lengths, perhaps the best single performance anywhere in the world this year. Just As Well is classy enough and gets the right course condition, but he has raced only once over 12 furlongs and seems to prefer shorter distances.

Ectot, a 3-year-old colt, is a surprisingly short price, favored almost by default. Only once has he raced beyond one mile, and though he won the 12-furlong Prix Niel, his Arc prep, the flashy turn of foot he showed a quarter-mile out had run its course by the finish, and the competition there was nothing like he meets Sunday.

Perhaps just as competitive at five or six times the price is the French 3-year-old Prince Gibraltar, who had serious trouble when third in the French Derby.

The race also includes the 2014 St. Leger winner, Kingston Hill, and the 2013 English Derby winner, Ruler of The World.

zolaism More than 1 year ago
Typical recent drf coverage ...almost zero and unreadable charts and no video even post race.Gentlemen,there is obviously a very serious financial problem existing in the drf and operating like loose horse will not get the publication anywhere close to the finish line.Is it not time for a major reboot of management and finances ? Not being representives of one of the world's premier events leaves everybody wondering !Any of the european horse would prosper in north american racing and the reverse is well known not to be true.
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zolaism More than 1 year ago
whoops !
Jeffrey Morer More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Dan Illman for providing this link to the pps: http://www.drf.com/arc
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
One has to consider that most of the french based horses train in one part of France , therefore the French trainers have a good feel if their horse can compete against the french horses. And the french trainers train during the year for this race alone,
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Héctor Lebrón More than 1 year ago
'Cause they don't race them against the boys more often.
Michael D More than 1 year ago
winning colors, genuine risk derbys la zanzara rachel alexandria, dahlia going way back miesque plenty more
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
You just listed a handful over what 40 years?
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
that first hill is a doozy. three year olds dominate this race, because the weight difference needs to be reduced to 5 pounds to the three old colts and 8 pounds for the thrre year old girls.
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scoobeck More than 1 year ago
Please explain how the dreby is the greatest race in the world. Americans want to win it with average 3 year olds as a whole who mostly go on to do win nothing else. I guess just the same as the breeders cup is known as the "world" championships.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Its apples and oranges.The Melbourne Cup,Japan,Hong Kong ,Dubai,Kentucky Derby,BC Classic,Epsom Derby,The Arc,etc.They all are more prestigious in thier regions.The feather in your cap is when you win the big one in two hemispheres.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
The Epsom Derby is the BIGGEST 3 year old race on the racing Calender anywhere in the world. Every country and owner who has a top 3 year old will run them at Epsom. Can't say the same for Kentucky on Dirt.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
I have not seen many arc winners go on to win nothing else. and american breeding is in an awful lot of foreign horses.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Because most retire after they win it. It is the pinnacle of one's career.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
cracks me up. as americans are having a dip in racing the rest of the world gloats. well Animal Kingdom and the stakes paced Delaware Park Horse that smacked Magician around in the Arlington Million should have told you if we Americsns train on a similar surface for the race we will win it.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Who is gloating exactly?. It seems you are because an American horse FINALLY beat a second string euro. Golf Clap.
Terry Mak More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best race in the world every year,nothing is close in my eyes.
joe d More than 1 year ago
I think its a pride thing. as an American and avid horse player, I get chills with the kentucky derby and the races leading up to it .. IT is the best time of the year for American handicappers and horseplayers alike.not diminishing the importance of all the other prestigious races around the world
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Ya we get SOOO excited watching those exciting Kentucky Derby Preps and most of those top 3 year olds most likely won't make the race sound.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
The Arc IS the greatest race in the world, followed by the Derby at Epsom, Japan Cup, King George, Ascot Gold Cup, and Melbourne Cup. Kentucky Derby still isn't on my list.
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
The otherJapanese horse is JUST A WAY! Only the top rated horse in the world (not Just As Well!!!!). Just A Way is by Heart's Cry (Sunday Silence) ex Sibyl by Wild Again
DRFHersh More than 1 year ago
D'oh! Thank you! Transcribed an interview with jockey who rode Just As Well during his fine career for Jonathan Sheppard & had his name buzzing in my head.
Steve Tall More than 1 year ago
I believe that would be 'Just a Way' , not 'Just As Well'.