07/24/2008 11:00PM

Japanese know what it takes to win Arc


NEW YORK - While Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen hem and haw about Curlin's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe plans and, indeed, his future in general, the Japanese are going full speed ahead with their own plans for an invasion of France this autumn.

Meisho Samson and Admire Jupiter will both leave Tokyo before the end of August to prepare at Chantilly for Longchamp's Group 2 Prix Foy on Sept. 14. The traditional Arc course and distance prep for older horses, the Foy's last three runnings have been won by European Horse of the Year Manduro, Breeders' Cup Turf winner Shirocco, and Hong Kong Cup winner Pride. The Japanese-trained El Condor Pasa won it in 1999 before finishing second by a half-length in the Arc to Montjeu, who went on to win the 2000 Foy prior to his fourth in that year's Arc.

While Meisho Samson and Admire Jupiter don't rate quite as highly as El Condor Pasa, or 2006 Arc third Deep Impact, they should acquit themselves well at Longchamp. A son of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner and Arc third-place finisher Opera House, Meisho Samson won the 1 1/4-mile Japanese 2000 Guineas and the 1 1/2-mile Japanese Derby in 2006, and the 1 1/4-mile Autumn Tenno Sho as a 4-year-old. He has been winless since then, but his head second in the 1 3/8-mile Takarazuka Kinen, a race won by Deep Impact in 2006, has him pointed in the right direction.

A stouthearted 5-year-old son of French Deputy, Admire Jupiter heads for France off back-to-back victories. He followed a 2 1/2-length tally in the 1 7/8-mile, Grade 2 Hanshin Daishoten with a head score over Meisho Samson in the two-mile, Grade 1 Spring Tenno Sho on May 4.

The Japanese are going about their Arc strategies the right way, as is Alain de Royer-Dupre, the trainer of Arc favorites Zarkava and Montmartre. They know where they are headed and are taking steps accordingly. Zarkava will run on the Sept. 14 Foy card in the Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares, while Montmartre goes the same day in the Prix Niel for 3-year-olds. Meanwhile, Jackson and Asmussen are polling the public on the Internet for ideas about what to do with Curlin. That makes for nice publicity, but it doesn't win races.

Strange ruling by Curragh stewards

The appeal by the connections of Curtain Call over the decision of the Curragh stewards not to move their horse up from fifth to fourth after he was sliced off by Alessandro Volta in the Irish Derby was denied on Thursday. The stewards of the Irish Turf Club ruled that "there was substantial doubt as to whether Alessandro Volta improved his placing in relation to Curtain Call as a result of causing the interference."

So, while admitting that interference was caused, the stewards have exonerated the guilty party, something that happens all too frequently in Europe. The three blind mice responsible for this decision are stewards Raymond Rooney, Derek Pugh, and Charles Cunningham. Alessandro Volta had banged Curtain Call inside the eighth pole while veering wildly left just as Curtain Call was making his move. Trainer Luca Cumani later said that his horse had been "crucified," but the stewards - who did demote Alessandro Volta from third to fourth behind Tartan Bearer, who was carried halfway across the track by the offending party - seem to think that slamming a horse out of all contention is an infraction not worthy of disqualification.

More bad news for Godolphin

Godolphin Racing's European woes continued on Thursday when it announced that three-time Group 1 winner Ramonti would miss his title defense in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

In his belated seasonal debut on July 12 in Ascot's Summer Mile Stakes, Ramonti had finished a dull fifth behind Arlington Million-bound Archipenko. He has since suffered a recurrence of the hind leg problems that had caused him to be out of action for seven months since winning the Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 7.

Outside of its Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Music Note, everything Godolphin has touched of late has turned to lead.

Earlier in the week, Godolphin announced that two of its best 3-year-olds had been knocked out of action, perhaps for the remainder of the year. Ibn Khaldun, winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in October but only 10th in the 2000 Guineas, and Fast Company, bought from Earle Mack prior to his sharp second to New Approach in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes but unraced this year, have been sidelined indefinitely for problems unspecified by the Godolphin braintrust.

Godolphin's lone Group 1 winner in Europe this season, Creachadoir, fractured a leg while preparing for Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes and is out for the year, while Literato, purchased from French defense minister Herve Morin after his victory in the Group 1 Champion Stakes in October, has since run up the track in both the Dubai Duty Free and the Prix d'Ispahan.

Rio de la Plata, second in the French 2000 Guineas and third in the Prix Jean Prat, is the only viable Group 1 performer still in training under Saeed bin Suroor at Newmarket. Suroor ranks just 11th in the British trainer standing this year with $1.2 million in earnings, one-fifth of that coming through Creachadoir's win in the Lockinge Stakes.