International spotlight: Breeders’ Cup WAYIs on Arc Day 2023

September 29th, 2023

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) is figuratively, and almost literally, the centerpiece of the Sunday action at ParisLongchamp, as the fourth of nine races on the fantastic card. Thus the other Group 1s, including four Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events, are stacked all around it.

Arc Day commences with the Challenge races for two-year-olds, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) and Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). After the marquee prize for Purebred Arabians comes the Arc itself (10:05 a.m. ET). Fillies and mares take the stage next for the Prix de l’Opera (G1), followed by the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) for sprinters. The final Group 1, the Prix de la Foret (G1), does not carry the Breeders’ Cup perk, but it reliably produces contenders for the Mile (G1).

Race 1, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) (8:15 a.m. ET): WAYI for BC Juvenile Turf (G1)

Beauvatier not only boasts a perfect 4-for-4 record; the Yann Barberot pupil also sports victories over notable foes. He toppled very smart filly Ramatuelle, the eventual Prix Morny (G1) runner-up, as well as Zabiari, who’s since captured the Prix des Chenes (G3). In his latest, Beauvatier added the Prix la Rochette (G3) at this course and about seven-furlong distance to confirm himself as the one to beat.

Aidan O’Brien is double-handed with Unquestionable, the near-misser in the Railway (G2) who deserves a pass for his Phoenix (G1) fourth where he reared in the gate and banged his head, and Henry Adams, 2-for-2 after the Tyros (G3).

Spearheading the British challenge is Rosallion, a commanding winner of the Pat Eddery S. at Ascot over three subsequent stakes victors. Although only third as the odds-on favorite in the soggy Champagne (G2), he’s eligible to find better ground in Paris. Native American comes off a big sales race coup during the Irish Champions Festival for Richard Fahey, while Ballymount Boy has played second fiddle in the Richmond (G2) and Acomb (G3). 

The Lagardere also offers points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, but its impact figures to remain on turf. 

Race 2, Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) (8:50 a.m. ET): WAYI for BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)

O’Brien’s Opera Singer crushed the Newtownanner Stud (aka Flame of Tara) (G3) at the Curragh, reiterating her stamina over the mile. The Justify filly will try to join half-siblings Brave Anna and Hit It a Bomb as a Group/Grade 1 winner as a juvenile.

Darnation, by red-hot Too Darn Hot, is riding a three-race winning streak, including the Prestige (G3) and May Hill (G2). But all came on going softer than what she’s expected to encounter here.

The home team is led by Christopher Head’s Freville, who overcame an unfavorable race shape to rally in the course-and-distance Prix d’Aumale (G3). Rose Bloom warrants the class hike after winning her first two starts well, as does Julica, who outclassed her opposition in Bordeaux. Les Pavots landed the Prix du Calvados (G2) at a heavy Deauville, but has to answer the distance question. Juddmonte’s Zandy has a different type of trip question as she shortens up from her about nine-furlong score for Andre Fabre.

Race 5, Prix de l’Opera (G1) (10:50 a.m. ET): WAYI for BC Filly & Mare Turf (G1)

Dual French classic heroine Blue Rose Cen aims to regain the winning habit after a pair of losses. A slightly inconvenienced fourth to Al Husn in the Nassau (G1) at a boggy Goodwood, she apparently didn’t stay the trip when fifth in the Prix Vermeille (G1) last out. Reverting to about 10 furlongs should be ideal for her, if she retains her old edge. That’s what the Opera will reveal.

Prix Saint-Alary (G1) victress Jannah Rose, a lackluster sixth to Blue Rose Cen in the French Oaks (G1), rebounded in the Prix Alec Head (formerly the Prix de la Nonette) (G2). She edged Lumiere Rock, who came back to romp in the Blandford (G2) during the Irish Champions Festival. The Blandford was a case of Joseph O’Brien defeating father Aidan’s Jackie Oh. Another prominent sophomore in the lineup is German Oaks (G1) winner Muskoka, slated to sell at Arqana’s Arc Sale Saturday evening.

Among the older distaffers, Rogue Millennium stretches back out after a strong-closing second to Tahiyra in the Matron (G1). In her only prior attempt on this course, the Dubawi filly was third in the Prix Allez France (G3) to future Group 1 queens India and Mqse de Sevigne. Rogue Millennium also has springtime form with Arc runner Free Wind, who nabbed her in the Middleton (G2). The Aga Khan’s Darkaniya, the last horse to beat Mqse de Sevigne back in July, has since captured a German Group 2 going about 1 1/2 miles.

Al Husn was on an upward curve going into her Nassau upset, but like Blue Rose Cen, she regressed when trying 1 1/2 miles in her latest. For Al Husn, that reverse was a worse ninth in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). Also needing to turn the page is Yorkshire Oaks sixth Stay Alert, previously a hampered runner-up in the Pretty Polly (G1).

Race 6, Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) (11:25 a.m. ET): WAYI for BC Turf Sprint (G1)

The about five-furlong scramble looks wide open, in keeping with the roller-coaster ride in this season’s sprint division. Irish shipper Moss Tucker has managed to win two in a row, taking a salty Phoenix Sprint (G3) before upsetting the “Win and You’re In” Flying Five (G1) at the Irish Champions Festival. Several other Flying Five alums are back, including fellow longshots Get Ahead and Equality, who filled the placings; beaten favorite Highfield Princess, who was a staying-on fifth after a muddled start; and subpar sixth Art Power

Last year’s Abbaye near-misser, mudlark White Lavender, exits a second to Highfield Princess in the King George (G2). Quicker conditions would be a negative, though. Coeur de Pierre, a close third in the 2022 Abbaye, tuned up with a win in the course-and-distance Prix du Petit Couvert (G3), heading Ponntos and dethroning two-time champ Berneuil. The progressive Rogue Lightning and Kerdos, plus hit-or-miss veteran Equilateral, add to the 19-horse puzzle.

Race 7, Prix de la Foret (G1) (noon ET)

Defending champion Kinross plans to use the about seven-furlong test once again as his springboard to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, in which he placed an excellent third last year at Keeneland. The Ralph Beckett veteran enters in sparkling form, after regaining his title in the Lennox (G2) at Glorious Goodwood and repeating in the City of York (G2).

Recent Prix du Moulin (G1) upsetter Sauterne and Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) scorer King Gold look to keep up their newfound momentum, along with Shouldvebeenaring, who came within a neck of a 50-1 shock in the Haydock Sprint Cup (G1). His stablemate from the Richard Hannon yard, Happy Romance, has something to find on her British form, but her fine efforts in the past two runnings of Saudi’s 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) prove that she relishes a turn in the vicinity of this trip. The other British distaffer, last year’s 1000 Guineas (G1) star Cachet, hopes to improve from a fourth in the Sceptre (G3) in her belated comeback. 

Fang is the two-time winner of the Prix du Pin (G3), the local prep. Breizh Sky, fourth as the Pin favorite off his summer break, has a right to move forward. Third in last year’s Lagardere, the French 2000 Guineas (G1) earlier this season, and the Prix Jean Prat (G1), Breizh Sky has been a solid campaigner. His biggest victory came over this track and trip in the June 11 Prix Paul de Moussac (G3).