Varenar benefitted from a swift early pace to storm past heavy favorite Goldikova in the final strides to capture the Total Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) by a short head at Longchamp Oct. 3.
Goldikova was quickly into stride under Olivier Peslier and joined the leaders in setting the hot early pace. The daughter of Anabaa took over the lead with just over two furlongs to run, opening up slightly on the rest of the field. Entering the final furlong however, Peslier really had to go to work aboard Goldikova, as her lead began to evaporate.
Sweet Hearth was the first to challenge Goldikova, edging in front of the champion 50 yards from the wire. Varenar, held up at the back of the pack for much of the race, was now flying on the outside under Stephane Pasquier, and charged past both fillies in the shadow of the wire to notch his first group I victory.
Sweet Hearth finished second, a half-length in front of Goldikova. Final time for the seven furlongs was 1:19.20 over the good to soft going.
An obviously disappointed Freddie Head, trainer of Goldikova, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (gr.IT), told reporters afterwards, “I do not know what happened. They went a gallop, but that is the name of the game. She didn't quicken. Turning into the straight she did not pick up and when he (Peslier) asked her, she stayed on at the one pace.
“For the moment she is going to the Breeders’ Cup, but nothing is definite and we will have to just see.”
Varenar, a 3-year-old chestnut son of Rock of Gibraltar, improved his record to four wins from nine starts. Varenar was bred in France by his owner, the Aga Khan, and is conditioned by Alain de Royer-Dupre. Varenar is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Visor, and hails from the family of 1984 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Swale.