10/05/2008 11:00PM

Zarkava dominates males winning Arc


If there is a better horse in the world than Zarkava this year, it is hiding some place where human beings do not have access. The Aga Khan's brilliant 3-year-old filly extend her perfect record to seven victories without a loss at Longchamp on Sunday, winning the world's richest turf race, the $5.5 million Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with her usual exhilarating turn of foot, overcoming a slow start and weaving through traffic in the stretch to defeat last year's runnerup, Youmzain, by 2 solid lengths.

Throughout the dismal and blustery afternoon bettors tried to find a way to beat Zarkava but their efforts came to nothing. Ultimately, they decided to send her off as the even-money favorite, and she did not disappoint them. A shaky beginning on the rail found the Zamindar filly near the back of the 16-strong field most of the way. Only three trailed her entering the 2 1/2-furlong stretch, but rider Christophe Soumillon never lost his considerable cool. He found a gap as the undefeated French Derby winner Vision d'Etat eased out for room himself. Zarkava gave him a little bump just to remind him who was boss, then turned on the afterburners in sweeping to the lead just inside the eighth-pole, stopping the clock in the 1 1/2-mile showpiece in 2:28.80 on good to soft ground.

Soldier of Fortune came out best of the three Aidan O'Brien-trained runners despite a three-month absence. The Coronation Cup winner was third beatn 2 1/2 lengths, while his stablemate Duke of Marmalade saw his 5-race Group 1 winning streak snapped in finishing seventh, 3 3/4 lengths behind Zarkava.

German invader It's Gino finished in an official deadheat for third with Soldier of Fortune but his owners at Stall 5 Stars have lodged an objection to that decision. Vision d'Etat was fifth while Japanese raider Meisho Samson was tenth off a 14-week layoff himself.

The Aga Khan left no doubt as to the key to Zarkava's victory.

"Zarkava and Dalakhani [his 2003 Arc winner] are both products of the base blood developed by Marcel Boussac and my grandfather [the previous Aga Khan]."

And while he was noncommittal about whether Zarkava ould remain in training next year, he left no doubt that she would not run in the Breeders' Cup Turf or in any other race this year. After a season that included victories in the French 1000 Guineas at a mile, the French Oaks at 1 5/16 miles, the Prix Vermeille at 1 1/2 miles, and now the Arc, there is really nothing more for her to prove.

In the Arc she dodged the rain that might have been an obstacle to victory.

"When I woke up this morning there was an enormous amount of rain in Chantilly," said Zarkava's trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre. "Fortunately, when I got to Longchamp [about 40 miles south of Chantilly], there had been very little. Today we have seen confirmation that she is really out of the ordinary. She has a fluid way of moving and an ease of acceleration in just a couple of strides which is incredible. I have never seen her in difficulty. I am very lucky to train such a great filly."

And the 47,000 people who braved the foul weather to be at Longchamp on Sunday were just as lucky.