Longchamp's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) is considered the 12-furlong championship of Europe, but it has never produced a John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf winner. The feature race on Europe's biggest day of racing, the Arc seems ideally placed as a BC Turf prep, coming three weeks before the Arlington Park extravaganza this year.
The Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing has won two of the last three Turfs, with Fantastic Light last year and Daylami in 1999, but they must be wondering about the prospects of Marienbard in Chicago. The 4-year-old son of Caerleon pulled a 16-1 surprise in last Sunday's Arc, beating the Niarchos family's Prix du Jockey-Club (Fr-I, French Derby) hero Sulamani into second place, one spot better than Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier's favored High Chaparral. The margins after the mile and one-half of "good" going in 2:26 3/5 were three-quarters of a length and a half-length.
"I was in a beautiful spot throughout the race," said Godolphin rider Frankie Dettori, who held up Marienbard in fifth place before slipping through an opening a furlong from home. "I had Aquarelliste and High Chaparral in front of me, and when the gap came my horse showed a great turn of foot."
"Frankie gave him a great ride," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "Last year we campaigned this horse over longer distances but we brought him back in trip this year and in the last couple of months he has really come into himself."
Marienbard had won group races in Germany in his two previous starts and vaulted to co-top of the World Thoroughbred Rankings for the Turf with his Parisian victory. High Chaparral, who is likely for the Turf, performed with distinction in the Arc while Aquarelliste finished sixth but was beaten just 2 3/4 lengths. German-trained Boreal came home 15th of the 16 Arc runners.
The principal Turf prep in North America last weekend took place at Santa Anita in the form of the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes at ten furlongs on turf. The Tin Man, under Mike Smith and racing for Ralph and Aury Todd, will be going to the Breeders' Cup Turf for trainer Dick Mandella.
The world Rankings list now finds Marienbard, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and Sir Michael Stoute-trained Golan on top on 127 pounds, Sulamani (Pascal Bary) and High Chaparral (Aidan O'Brien) next on 126, U.S.-trained hopes With Anticipation (Jonathan Sheppard), Frankel's Turf Classic winner Denon and O'Brien's Hawk Wing on 123, and Ballingarry (Laura de Seroux) 121.
Fab Five Contenders:Horse/Trainer/Owner
1) Denon/Bobby Frankel/EdGann and Flaxman Holdings
2) With Anticipation/Jonathan Sheppard/Augustin Stable
3) Golan/Sir Michael Stoute/Exors of the late Lord Weinstock
4) Aquarelliste/Elie Lellouche/Ecurie Wildenstein
5) High Chaparral/Mick Kinane/Aidan O'Brien