10/01/2007 11:00PM

Wet going major concern in Arc de Triomphe

EmailThe ground could play a key role in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, where the going was officially described as very soft on Tuesday, a day when Epsom Derby winner Authorized headed a list of 15 possible runners for the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 race.

While there is no rain predicted for the Paris region for the remainder of the week, Longchamp is a track that dries slowly at this time of year, so nothing better than good to soft can be expected on Sunday. While that should not pose a problem for the favored Authorized, who has won the Juddmonte International Stakes on good to soft and last fall’s Racing Post Trophy on heavy going, Dylan Thomas and Zambezi Sun would certainly prefer good going.

Authorized was proclaimed fit and ready by trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam after an impressive workout at Newmarket on Monday. The Montjeu 3-year-old handed Dylan Thomas a one-length beating in the Juddmonte International and will have Frankie Dettori in the saddle going in search of his fourth Arc triumph.

Dylan Thomas, one of seven possible runners for trainer Aidan O’Brien, has since won the Irish Champion Stakes. While he appears to be a better horse at 12 furlongs than at 10, O’Brien will be praying for sunny weather in Paris for the rest of the week since all of Dylan Thomas’s best efforts have come on good or good to firm ground.

Not so his stablemate Soldier of Fortune, who won the Irish Derby on soft and the Prix Niel on good to firm. There is a feeling that we have not yet seen the best of this Galileo colt as he, Authorized, and French favorite Zambezi Sun attempt to become the 12th 3-year-old in the last 14 years to win the Arc.

The two older horses to win in that span, Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard in 2002, were both owned by Godolphin, but Sheikh Mohammed’s team doesn’t have a runner in this year’s Arc. Stranger still is the low number of French-trained horses – three – that will line up for France’s greatest race.

Zambezi Sun, trained by Pascal Bary for Khalid Abdullah, won the Grand Prix de Paris in July but was soundly defeated when third behind race-winner Soldier of Fortune in the Prix Niel. The Aga Khan’s Mandesha, a three-time Group 1 winner last year, has been second in her last three outings. Those two will be joined by Sagara, but among that trio only Mandesha, who worked well at Chantilly on Tuesday wearing cheekpieces, has ever shown a liking for soft ground.

Meanwhile, O’Brien is still considering Yeats, Acapulco, Archipenko, Red Rock Canyon and Yellowstone. Yeats, however, is much more likely to run in the 2 1/2-mile Prix du Cadran on the Arc undercard, while the others figure as pacesetters or spear-carriers.

Ladbrokes odds for the Arc favorites are: Authorized 5-4, Soldier of Fortune 5-2, Zambezi Sun 9-2, Dylan Thomas 7-1, Mandesha 12-1.

Soft ground could limit the Godolphin contingent for Arc weekend, which will offer seven Group 1’s and four Group 2’s. Rio de la Plata will not go in Sunday’s Prix Marcel Boussac for juvenile fillies if it is soft, while Caradak could miss Saturday’s seven-furlong Prix de la Foret for the same reason. Echo of Light will line up for the one-mile Prix Daniel Wildenstein on Saturday, while Stage Gift goes in the 1 1/4-mile Prix Dollar the same day.