Updated on 10/10/2012 10:23AM

Longchamp: Unheralded filly Solemia scores shocking upset in Arc

The 4-year-old filly Solemia (right), ridden by Oliver Peslier, outfinishes Japanese star Orfevre in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was going just the way the connections of Japanese star Orfevre must have dreamt. Moving fluidly from the back of an 18-horse field, Orfevre swept past rival after toiling rival, taking a clear lead into the final furlong of Sunday’s race at Longchamp. The race was his – and then it wasn’t. Solemia, a 40-1 shot Orfevre already had blown by in midstretch, kept staying on, staying on, and the unheralded 4-year-old filly tagged Orfevre in the shadow of the finish to score a shocking neck win.

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Solemia had failed to land a Group 1 in 12 starts over three calendar years of racing and had run in only one of them, finishing third Sept. 16 in the Prix Vermeille. But she picked a fantastic time to run the race of her life, with an assist going to jockey Olivier Peslier, who won the Arc three years in a row, from 1996-1998. Solemia’s Spanish-born trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias, winning his first Arc with his fourth runner, paid tribute to Peslier afterward.

"Sometimes the jockey can make the difference and Olivier Peslier is the one who won the race,” Laffon Parias said.

Solemia broke decently and raced just behind the lead pack while staying near the inner rail. She surged at the top of the stretch and briefly took a narrow lead before being inhaled by Orfevre, but Peslier never gave up and Solemia chugged onward, winning for the fifth time in 13 races.

A 4-year-old Poliglote filly bred and owned by Gerard and Alain Wertheimer, Solemia paid $83 to win. Her time for 1 ½ miles on heavy, testing going was a slow 2:37.18. Seven lengths separated Orfevre and the third-place horse, Masterstroke, a 13-1 shot. Haya Landa, who was 132-1, finished fourth, emphasizing the sense that this Arc was strongly shaped by the very wet, demanding conditions that many horses failed to handle. Camelot, the close second choice, raced in the second flight of runners but never fired and finished seventh. His stablemate, St Nicholas Abbey, never got involved and came home 11th. Sea Moon was eighth, Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir 10th, and French Derby winner Saonois 15th, beating only the race’s three pacemakers.

The result dealt a blow to Japanese fans and backers of Orfevre, whose main seasonal goal came Sunday. Sent to France this summer with the sole intention of bringing home to Japan the first Arc win in 13 tries, Orfevre had won his prep race for the Arc, the Prix Foy, and even after breaking from post 18 Sunday , Orfevre was traveling like a winner. Held up near the back by jockey Christophe Soumillon, Orfevre launched a long, powerful rally while passing most of the field. He swooped to the lead, going well clear in the final furlong, but lost his momentum, nailed by the resurgent Solemia.

“He did everything, but he stopped in the final 150 meters,” Soumillon said. “It’s a shame; he has so much potential.”

The winner is a Breeders’ Cup nominee, but there was no immediate word from her connections concerning her possible participation in one of the BC turf races. St Nicholas Abbey remains on course to defend his BC Turf title, trainer Aidan O’Brien said afterward, adding that Camelot, who lost at least two shoes during the race, would return to race in 2013. Sea Moon was second in the 2011 BC Turf and remains a possible runner again this year.