Hanson: Betting the 2022 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

September 30th, 2022

With course conditions expected to be very soft and a with a full field of 20 entered, Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) looks a fascinating betting affair.

As noted in this space earlier this week, two significant Arc trends of late have been the limited success of post-time favorites and the edge older horses have had over the past decade. Neither bodes well for early favorite Luxembourg, who also is being asked to negotiate 1 1/2 miles for the first time in Europe's most competitive race, which also provides a free pass to the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) for the winner.

Both Luxembourg and fellow three-year-old Vadeni have scored notable wins against their elders this season, but in neither case were they necessarily defeating the best 1 1/2-mile older horses on the continent. Those would be the five-year-old mare #14 Alpinista (9-2), whose current seven-race win streak includes three Group 1 wins against males in Germany as well as the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1), and #2 Torquator Tasso (6-1), the German raider who shocked this race last year at 70-1 but will be considerably shorter this time as he probably gets the course conditions he absolutely thrives in.

Alpinista has met Torquator Tasso once before, beating him 2 3/4 lengths in last year's Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1) on a good track. Connections of the gray mare - who handles all track conditions - undoubtedly regretted having passed on the 2021 Arc in light of Torquator Tasso's upset, so here they are.

Torquator Tasso can surely prevail again if the testing conditions do indeed arise. The main knock is that having missed the proverbial wedding last year, how many are excited to attend a potential funeral?

Several of the France-based sophomores look interesting, including Onesto and Al Hakeem, but the three-year-old I'd consider most is #18 Westover (8-1), who readers might recall was my selection for the Epsom Derby (G1) in June. A troubled third that day to Desert Crown, he subsequently won the Irish Derby (G1) by a handsome margin, but raced far too keenly and faded badly in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot.

Although the form of the Epsom Derby has subsequently proven to be rather so-so, I think Desert Crown, if he had been able to put in a full season this year, would have done well enough to have been one of the favorites in this race. Westover, with better luck in running, should have been a clear second at Epsom, and his Ascot performance is generally worth forgiving.

However, I'm not enthused about the early price on Westover. Given concerns about the quality of the three-year-olds in general and that Ascot performance, a single-digit price simply isn't that enticing. If his odds drift Sunday, I might reconsider.

Alpinista is my main play in the Arc and I'll also key her in exactas over Torquator Tasso and Westover. I might also put in a saver exacta using Westover on top, just in case he does live up to the early promise he seemed to show last spring.