Breeders' Cup Challenge events galore on Arc Day

September 28th, 2022

The first Sunday of October in Paris always serves up a feast of Breeders’ Cup clues. The pièce de résistance, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), is historically the key race for the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), even long before the “Win and You’re In” (WAYI) provision.

Since we’ve covered the leading Arc contenders in the “10 storylines to know” feature, let’s take an early look at how Sunday’s Group 1 events in other divisions are shaping up, as of Wednesday’s first forfeit stage (and with Thursday updates). The final fields will be declared Friday.

Prix de l’Opera (G1) – WAYI for Filly & Mare Turf (G1)

Nashwa, the one to beat in the about 1 1/4-mile prize, has had her sights on the Breeders’ Cup for some time. Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the Frankel filly is nearly flawless in 2022, with her only loss of the season a non-staying third to Tuesday in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom. Nashwa came right back to win the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) over La Parisienne (who could not get into the overflow Arc) and Agave. In her latest, Nashwa defeated elders in the Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood.

Aidan O’Brien pitched Tuesday versus the colts in the Irish Derby (G1), but the gambit didn’t pan out in fourth. Subsequently second to Arc-bound Alpinista in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) and fourth in the Prix Vermeille (G1), Tuesday could benefit from cutting back in trip herself.

Joseph O’Brien sends out Above the Curve. The giant daughter of American Pharoah captured the course-and-distance Prix Saint-Alary (G1) in May and Blandford (G2) on Irish Champions Weekend. In the latter, Above the Curve edged the older Insinuendo, who nearly upset Arc favorite Luxembourg in the Royal Whip (G3) two back. On Thursday, the Irish challenge increased with the supplementary entry of Trevaunance, winner of the Prix de Psyche (G3) and Prix de la Nonette (G2) for Jessica Harrington. 

Group 1 veteran Grand Glory, just denied in this race last year, was initially left in the Opera but is now officially in the Arc as expected. Other older distaffers worth a look are the Aga Khan’s high-class Ebaiyra, third in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) last out, and My Astra, runner-up in the Pretty Polly (G1) when last seen for William Haggas.

Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1) – WAYI for Turf Sprint (G1)

Speedy juvenile The Platinum Queen will take on older horses in the about five-furlong dash down the straightaway. If she becomes the first two-year-old to take the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) since Sigy (1978), the Richard Fahey pupil would boost her profile for the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1). She more than held her own in the Nunthorpe (G1), only run down by standout mare Highfield Princess (who goes straight to the Turf Sprint).

Defending Abbaye champion A Case of You used his ticket to the Turf Sprint last year, finishing a creditable fifth to Golden Pal at Del Mar. The Irish shipper looks to rebound from a couple of subpar runs, lately in the Flying Five (G1). Others in a similar position include Mooneista and Raasel. Romantic Proposal was also in this category, but subsequently not declared.

Among those aiming to build upon good results are World Trophy (G3) hero Mitbaahy, a half-brother to Grade 1 star Going Global; Tees Spirit, successful in the Abergwaun S. at Tipperary; Flotus, a fine third in the Flying Five; and Berneuil, who repeated in the local prep, the Prix du Petit Couvert (G3), to head the home team.

On Thursday, Teresa Mendoza was supplemented in light of her near-miss to Mitbaahy at Newbury. Rohaan, third in the Haydock Sprint Cup (G1), was a notable absentee as he opted for Saturday’s Bengough (G3) at Ascot.

Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) – WAYI for Juvenile Turf (G1)

Ireland figures to be well represented in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). Aidan O’Brien has taken out Futurity (G2) winner Aesop’s Fables, fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Vincent O’Brien National (G1), but left in The Antarctic, who could wheel back after his second in last Saturday’s Middle Park (G1). Railway (G2) hero Shartash, most recently third in the National, and Pivotal Trigger, third in the Prix des Chenes (G3), are likely to make the trip.

Set to renew rivalry are the top three from the Prix la Rochette (G3) at this track and about seven-furlong trip — the filly Tigrais, near-misser Breizh Sky, and Gamestop.

Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) – WAYI for Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)

Ballydoyle’s Group 3 scorer Never Ending Story, a late-running fourth behind Tahiyra in the Moyglare Stud (G1), should improve on the stretch-out to a metric mile in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). Stablemate Be Happy, who was to step up in class from her debut victory at Cork, was taken out.

Additional Irish interest comes with the Jim Bolger-trained Gan Teorainn, a close second in this past Sunday’s Weld Park (G3), and Newtownanner Stud (G3) upsetter Aspen Grove, just supplemented here on Thursday. Also added was Wed, who beat Never Ending Story in the Prix du Calvados (G2).

German shipper Habana has beaten males in both of her starts, including a Group 3 at Baden-Baden. Blue Rose Cen exits her first stakes win in the Prix d’Aumale (G3), while British raiders Breege and Dandy Alys have placed at the Group 3 level at home.

Two French-based daughters of Frankel are serious stakes debutantes — Juddmonte’s Ardent, out of multiple Grade 1 victress Emollient, and Wertheimer homebred Kelina, who beat Ardent in their mutual debut. The runner-up in that same newcomers’ race, Shalromy, likewise came back to win.

Prix de la Foret (G1)

Although not part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the Prix de la Foret (G1) invariably produces contenders for the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). The great Goldikova is among those who have used the about seven-furlong affair as a stepping stone to the Breeders’ Cup. Her daughter Goldistyle is a longshot in Sunday’s line-up, but she did earn her lone stakes win at this course and distance.

Tenebrism beat males in the Prix Jean Prat (G1) in her only prior attempt at the distance. Reverting in trip is the right idea for the Ballydoyle filly following placings in the Prix Rothschild (G1) and Matron (G1) at a mile. She chose this in preference to Saturday’s Sun Chariot (G1) at Newmarket. Homeless Songs, the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) romper who was fourth as the Matron favorite, has made the opposite decision, heading to Newmarket rather than France.

Kinross, fourth in last fall’s Foret to next-out Mile star Space Blues, returns better than ever off scores in the City of York (G2) (over Pogo) and Park (G2) (over New Energy). Japan’s Entscheiden, in contrast, hasn’t done as well in backing up his third-place effort here a year ago. 

Three-year-old filly Sandrine has traded decisions with Kinross, beating him in the Lennox (G2) at Glorious Goodwood prior to a third at York. Malavath, last year’s Juvenile Fillies Turf near-misser, was most recently fourth in the Rothschild, and Mangoustine has been unplaced twice since her upset of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1).

On Thursday, Fang was supplemented in the wake of his new career high in the course-and-distance prep, the Prix du Pin (G3). Other candidates previously highlighted in this story - Sacred, Garrus, and Go Bears Go - were all removed.