09/14/2012 3:34PM

Longchamp: Orfevre, Japanese Triple Crown winner, preps for Arc in Prix Foy


Somewhat lost amid Camelot’s bid for an English Triple Crown this weekend is the presence of Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre at Longchamp on Sunday.

Orfevre is one of five horses entered in the Group 2 Prix Foy, which along with the Group  2 Prix Niel for 3-year-olds and the Group 1 Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares serve as major preparatory races for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Sunday’s excellent card also includes a compact but interesting renewal of the Group 1 Prix du Moulin over one mile, and a good sprint race, the Group 3 Prix du Petit Covert.

Four-year-old Orfevre swept the 2011 Triple Crown in Japan and has long had the Arc as his major 2012 goal. Unraced since winning the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen on June 24, Orfevre has been stabled in France since mid-summer in an effort to acclimate him well in advance of his races this fall. Jockey Christophe Soumillon has been working the horse for trainer Ikee Yasutoshi, who has sent a pacemaker, Aventino, to help late-running Orfevre along in the 1 1/2-mile Foy. The Andre Fabre-trained 4-year-old Meandre should provide the stiffest competition. Meandre finished sixth in the 2011 Arc and in June won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, albeit over only three rivals.

Galikova is the headliner in the 13-horse Vermeille, another 1 1/2-mile Arc launching point. The sister to Goldikova won the 2011 Vermeille in a manner impressive enough to make her one of the Arc favorites, but she disappointed with a ninth-place showing behind Danedream, and has only had a light two-start campaign so far in 2012. Trained by Freddie Head, Galikova didn’t race this year until June 24, when she was third to Meandre at Saint-Cloud, and her only other start came in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet on Aug.  19 at Deauville. Galikova, however, signaled better things to come in that race, finishing a close third to Snow Fairy and Izzi Top in a performance that could have her moving forward now. Princess Highway, Romantica, and Shareta are three others to keep an eye on in the Vermeille.

American racing fans will recognize the name of the 2012 Secretariat winner Bayrir, who is one of six entered in the 1 1/2-mile Niel. Bayrir’s connections have tentatively targeted the Breeders Cup Turf and may not have serious designs on the Arc, but the latter race could be in the plans for the Fabre-trained Last Train. The Juddmonte Farms colt by Arc winner Rail Link has but four career starts and probably has not yet been fully exposed.

The Moulin, contested over one mile, drew only the quartet of Farhh, Moonlight Cloud, Caspar Netscher, and Sarkiyla. It’s a good race, though. Moonlight Cloud, trained by Head and owned by George Strawbridge, was a troubled fourth behind Excelebration when stretched from shorter races to one mile in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville. Godolphin’s Farhh has had the misfortune of coming along during the Frankel era, and that superstar has taken his measure in Farhh’s two most recent starts.