09/29/2010 10:13AM

Soft turf could play major role in Arc de Triomphe

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Fame and Glory (center), chasing home Sea the Stars in last year's Irish Champion, does his best running on good or good-to-firm ground.

PARIS – The weather could play havoc with Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as intermittent rain on Friday and Saturday followed by a downpour on Sunday have left Paris a soggy city this week. With more rain forecast for Thursday and Friday, the world’s second richest race at $5.33 million could be one that very much favors soft-ground lovers.

The state of the ground at Longchamp on Tuesday was officially described as soft, although clerk of the course Christian Delport reported that it was very close to being very soft. As a result, bettors will be combing the Arc form for horses that can act on such a surface.

All of this appears to favor the two French 3-year-olds, Behkabad and Planteur. They have finished one-two on soft ground in their last two races over the Arc course and distance of 1 1/2 miles in the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix Niel. The Elie Lellouche-trained Planteur worked well at Les Aigles in Chantilly on Monday morning, easily getting the best of two workmates in a nine-furlong move.

Aidan O’Brien, on the other hand, finds himself in the opposite camp as his two Arc hopefuls, Fame and Glory and Cape Blanco, have both done their best running on good or good-to-firm ground. O’Brien and his Coolmore owners will not be doing any rain dances this week.

As a result of the rain, British bookies have adjusted their Arc odds slightly in favor of the French. William Hill lists Behkabad as its 3-1 favorite, despite the fact that he has never run against older horses. Fame and Glory is Hill’s second favorite at 4-1, with Planteur 6-1 and Cape Blanco 8-1. The Michael Stoute-trained Epsom Derby winner Workforce, who is still not certain to run in the Arc, is 11-2.

The weather isn’t doing Goldikova any favors either. The Freddie Head-trained 5-year-old has never been at her best on soft ground, finishing second to Makfi last time under those conditions at Deauville in the Prix Jacques Le Marois. She will use Sunday’s seven-furlong Prix de la Foret as a prep for an unprecedented third Breeders’ Cup Mile title, and while she doesn’t have to win to earn a trip to Churchill Downs (witness her third-place finish in last year’s Foret prior to her second Mile triumph), Head will be joining O’Brien in his worship of the sun gods this week.

Goldikova wasn’t overly impressive in a turf work at Chantilly on Monday as she barely reeled in her two workmates. Once again, she will have her work cut out for her in the Foret.