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Updated on 10/10/2012 9:23AM
Longchamp: Unheralded filly Solemia scores shocking upset in Arc
By Marcus Hersh
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.
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.
No doubt, these horses won't see that type of track again anytime soon. It was as slow as can be. They run that race 10x more and the Japanese horse wins them all. Not a bad win/place bet though.
Orfevre looked like he lost a cylinder at the end of that one.
Hope that you all watched the race and just enjoyed it for the spectacle. Anyone who seriously bet on it and lost gets no sympathy from me. If you got up to watch the show, which started at 8:30 A.M. Eastern, maybe you weren't fully awake, and missed the fact that the ground was a bog. The first throw-out the had to be the "great" Camelot who looked like Ali in Manilla when slogging his way to victory in the Irish Derby over Born To Sea who is no Smokin Joe, but a mere Group 2/3 caliber animal, that has since come back to be totally outclassed in a couple of other big races in Ireland. The final time of the Arc was over 3 seconds slower that Orfevre had run when winning his prep race, the Prix Foy at the Longchamps last month. That same day Shareta, who finished up the track yesterday, won the Prix Vermeille in almost nine seconds faster; Solemia was no match then finishing third. There was a lot of angst over Orfevre being drawn on the outside, but with his late closing style it may not have mattered. In fact he might have had an advantage over those on the inside as far as the footing was concerned. When he veered toward the rail he appeared to still have a lot of momentum, so perhaps it was when he hit the chewed up inner path that he hit the proverbial brick wall. In any case, strike a line through the form of any of these who show up at Sanata Anita, as this race is a throw out.
I know these are horses, and that they're running as hard as they can, but in human sports terms Orfevre choked that race. Gag city. Soumillon seemed to be doing all that he could. Maybe he moved too soon? But it's rare to see a horse blow by everyone so convincingly only to get passed just a little while later. And Orfevre opened a clear lead. The announcer was already handing Japan its first Arc. It reminded me of tape I've seen of Buchpasser's Flamingo when Buckpasser allowed a horse to blow right by him and open a clear lead late in the stretch before re-rallying and nailing him at the wire. But that was Buckpasser doing the re-rallying. This mare Solemia hadn't done anyhting prior to suggest she could allow a horse to blow right by her but then re-rally for the win. I give Solemia credit for continuing to fight, but the story is how Orfevre lost.
Must be the juice , cuz we all know how predictable horses are.
Steve Crist ; Set Marcus to work getting ready for The Arc next year... Provide color and clout to everyone not right up on their French. I told Marcus you'd have .the vault wide open.
Orfevre STOPPED. He got extremely tired. That is why he lost. Solemia not only won but galloped out way in front.
Wow! Totally exciting race! The filly beat the boys in the big race du jour. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe totally lived up to the hype for me. Powerful win by the filly, Solemia, to nip Japanese Triple Crown champion, Orfevre, at the wire. I kept wondering when the trigger was finally going to be pulled on Orfevre. In the Prix de Foy, the trigger was pulled at the right time on him. Not so much in the Arc. He accelerated toward the wire, headed for victory, he passed Solemia along the way, only to have her reach down within herself with determination and catch him at the wire. At 40-1 she was an impressive winner at an impressive price. In fact, juicy long shots ruled the day at Longchamps all day today. Most of the winners paid in the double digits. The races were very competitive today, too. Lots and lots of fun to watch! Congratulations to Solemia and all of her connections on a memorable win. I hope both Solemia and Orfevre come back to race in the 2013 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. They both seem to have an affinity for the Longchamp course, and will hopefully still be at the top of their games this time next year. I am definitely looking forward to watching next year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Marcus, in the Arc's DRF past performances the 2A (St. Nicholas Abbey), 5A (Robin Hood), 13A (Camelot) & 15A (Ernest Hemingway) were listed to be coupled for Win wagering only. TVG showed the same Morning Line of 2-1 for all of these horses which is what I would expect with a 4 horse coupling; however at approximately 1 minute to post the odds in the co-mingled pool were as follows: 2A - 34/1; 5A - 99/1; 13A - 7/2; 15A - 99/1. I am confused; how can horses that are coupled together have different odds? Can you please explain?
Orfevre may have held had Soumillon gone to a hand ride... That said, his mount veered sharply away from that pedestal at the wire and might have eyeballed that thing several jumps earlier. Who was the first rabbit to finish?
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