10/02/2015 12:50PM

Treve goes for Arc hat trick

Barbara D. Livingston
Flintshire, runner-up in last year's Arc and winner of this year's Sword Dancer at Saratoga, has been lightly bet in overseas markets.

In 2014, Treve looked like a dim shadow of her best self, yet she stormed to a two-length victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, winning the biggest prize in European racing for the second year in a row. This fall, Treve, well, is very much Treve again. No talk of sore feet or a misaligned back, no worries about her never being the same again. She won her Arc prep, the Prix Vermeille, by six lengths while absolutely cruising under the wire, and all subsequent reports from the camp of trainer Criquette Head-Maarek point to a horse loving life, itching to race.

So, if Treve won her second Arc under difficult circumstances, what can stop her from winning a third under ideal ones?

Probably nothing, and Treve will be the heavy favorite when 18 horses go to the post Sunday at Longchamp. Post time for the Arc is earlier this year than usual, the race slated to go at 9:55 a.m. Eastern, the fourth of seven Group 1 races on a program that begins at 8 a.m. on the East Coast. The whole card will be streamed live at www.drf.com, and wagering is available at DRFBets.

:: Arc de Triomphe: Get free PPs, watch Sunday’s card live

With a purse of about $5.6 million, the Arc is one of the richest grass races in the world, and though this year’s edition lacks the Japanese invasion that has intrigued in recent years, the field bursts with talent. Flintshire, who was second in the 2014 Arc and is the heavy antepost favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf, is trading at close to 20-1 in overseas betting markets.

The second and third favorites behind Treve are 3-year-olds: the English Derby winner, Golden Horn, and New Bay, the winner of the French Derby. Golden Horn’s trainer, John Gosden, seeks his first Arc win, while Andre Fabre, the trainer of New Bay, has won the race seven times.

Golden Horn was supplemented Thursday for more than $100,000 after it became clear that the going at Longchamp would at worst be on the good side of soft, and with drying conditions forecast through race day, good seems the likely designation. That might narrow the gap between Golden Horn and Treve, but Treve is by no means ground-dependent.

Moreover, while Golden Horn drew poorly Friday, landing post 14, Treve has an ideal draw in post 8, plus the aid of a pacemaker, Shahah, who will carve out a steady, solid tempo if all goes to plan. Treve, who as usual will have Thierry Jarnet in the irons, excels at Longchamp and wins her races with an extraordinary turn of foot no horse has been able to match with the mare at her best. She was surprisingly kept in training following her 2014 Arc win by Sheikh Joann al Thani’s Al Shaqab Racing with the express goal of becoming the first three-time Arc winner, and there is an excellent chance that goal will be achieved.

Between the two 3-year-olds being best supported, Golden Horn easily has the better résumé. His Derby win came over Jack Hobbs, who proved his worth in winning the Irish Derby, and Golden Horn twice has beaten older Group 1 horses, in the Eclipse Stakes and last out in the Irish Champion. Golden Horn gave the closing Free Eagle a mighty bump when swerving out in deep stretch of the Irish Champion, and though he won by one length over Arc runner Found, he did not appear to be at his very best, but there is reason to hope for more Sunday. Golden Horn was sent to the lead at Leopardstown and likely is a better horse when chasing a target, which he’ll have in the Arc, and the good going he’ll find Sunday suits him better than the wetter courses over which he made his last two starts.

Fabre has expressed confidence in New Bay, but the colt faces far stronger foes than he’s yet met. The French Derby this year did not seem close to a vintage edition, and New Bay’s two victories since have come at the expense of second- or third-tier opposition. His stablemate Flintshire, in great form and with his Arc second as a guide, looks the better wagering value at nearly four times the price in antepost betting.

Free Eagle has excellent credentials for trainer Dermot Weld but has yet to race beyond 10 furlongs, though his connections believe he stays. Distance is a concern for the talented 3-year-old filly Found, who carries 11 pounds fewer than the older males in the race, but whose dam and second dam preferred races up to only one mile.

The French mare Dolniya will handle the going and has more 12-furlong experience than many of her rivals, and at a long price, she could find her way into the top three. But beating Treve? No one in the Arc has come close to doing that yet.