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2007 Arc de Triomphe Undercard Stakes

Satwa Queen heads back to the barn after winning the 2007 Prix de l'Opera Casino Barriere d'Enghien les Bains (G1)

     Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
     Pre-Arc Saturday stakes

Date: 10/07/2007

Although the big race of the day is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, it is just one of six Group 1 stakes on the card. Arc weekend to the Europeans is analogous to the Breeders' Cup Championships in America, with multiple divisions settling their year-end championships over 2 days. The other races on Sunday include the Prix de l'Opera at about 1 1/4 miles for the fillies and mares, the Prix Du Cadran at about 2 1/2 miles, the Prix de l'Abbaye at about 5 furlongs, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium at about 7 furlongs for the juvenile colts, and the Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium des Pouliches at about 1 mile for the juvenile fillies. All races on Arc day were contested over the "Grande Piste" turf course at Longchamp except the Prix de l'Abbaye which was run over the "Ligne Droite" or straight line course which bisects the infield. You can find results chart for all the races with a link to the photo finish shot for each here

Satwa Queen wins the Prix De l'Opera Casino Barriere d'Enghien-Les-Bains over Promising Queen and Legerete

The distaff equivalent of the Arc is the €250,000 (about $353,300 U.S.) Prix de l'Opera Casino Barriere d'Enghien les Bains (G1), with a field of 11 older fillies and mares going 2000 meters. 3-1 second choice Satwa Queen settled at the back of the field early, well off the pace set by 17-1 Mystic Lips, then moved up to challenge for the lead at the top of the stretch. Under jockey Thierry Thulliez, she wore down 15-1 Promising Lead through the final furlong to prevail by a head in a time of 2:03.80 over the good to soft course. It was another head back to 18-1 Legerete in a blanket finish. 8-5 favorite Light Shift stalked the pace early but faded through the stretch to finish sixth.
Sporting Life chart

Jockey Christophe Soumillon and Satwa Queen return after the race. Winning trainer Jean de Roualle said, "I've been preparing this for a year! Thierry (Thulliez) rode a great race and the ground was soft today so everything was perfect for her. This is a great filly, a real champion. She deserved that. I have won the French Oaks and the Vermeille before and this win today gives me the same feeling as seeing France beat the All-Blacks yesterday (in the Rugby World Cup) She may well go to Hong Kong if invited. I will discuss with her owner Steven Lamprell, but she is 5 now and so is likely to be retired at the end of the year. She has now won a Group 1 so what more can we ask for?"

Benbaun wins the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Majestic Barriere (G1)

Kicking off the stakes action on Sunday was the shortest race of the weekend, the €250,000 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Majestic Barriere de Cannes (G1) at 1000 meters on a straightaway, open to all ages. 6-1 second choice Benbaun tracked the early leaders, then with a 1/4 mile remaining, took over the lead when asked by jockey Pat Smullen and drew off to win by 2 lengths in 56.70. 2-1 favorite and the only 2-year-old in the field, Kingsgate Native, was second, 2 lengths ahead of 19-1 Desert Lord in third.
Sporting Life chart

Benbaun and jockey Pat Smullen in the walking ring after the race. Winning trainer Mark Wallace said, "I was worried about the ground being too soft, and hesitated to run, but in the end we decided it wasn't too bad. He'll go out into the field for a couple of weeks now and will then go to Hong Kong, if he's invited, which I think he will be. Early next year he will go to Australia and I will try and win the Global Sprint Challenge with him. He has improved a lot this year, thanks to our vet who has taken great care of him. He has had some niggly problems in the past like a sore knee but nothing serious. He burst a blood vessel at Royal Ascot and I was hoping he wouldn't do the same today. I've only been training for 4 1/2 years and this is my first Group 1 win so it's a dream come true. This horse cost only 6,000 guineas as a yearling and I think he's repaid that now!"

Rio del la Plata wins the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium)

The other two stakes events on Sunday featured the juvenile divisions. The richest race on the undercard is the €350,000 (about $494,000 U.S.) Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium, G1) at 1400 meters for 2-year-olds. 4-5 favorite Rio De La Plata did not disappoint his backers, as he stalked 8-1 frontrunner Greatwallofchina in 3rd around the turn and through the stretch. When the pacesetter tired midway through the stretch, 22-1 Declaration of War briefly took the lead but Rio De La Plata easily passed him at the 1/8 pole and drew away to a 2 1/2 length victory in 1:21.50. It was just a short head back to late-running 5-1 shot Shediak in third.
Sporting Life chart

Rio de la Plata returns after the race. His trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, "He is a very good horse and I gave him too much to do in his last race but we were beaten by a very good horse. Today Rio De La Plata ran as we expected him to do." Racing manager Simon Crisford of owner Godolphin Racing added, "That was really good, He's a top horse. We were worried about the ground but the horse was so well we decided to come anyway. This race is such an important race we haven't really thought about a future objective. He's in the Dewhurst Stakes but that's only 2 weeks away. However it remains a possibility as he does get over his races so well. He will start over a mile in the Guineas next year and he has the right profile to become a top horse over 1 1/4 miles. I am not sure if he will stay 1 1/2 miles although his Argentinian dam's side does suggest he might."

Zarkava winning the Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium des Pouliches Royal Barriere de Deauvil

The juvenile filly division competed in the Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium des Pouliches Royal Barriere de Deauvil (G1). A field of ten 2-year-old fillies went 1600 meters for a purse of €300,000 (about $423,500 U.S.) 9-2 second choice Zarkava settled near the back of the field early, well off the pace set by 5-1 third choice Conference Call. At the top of the stretch, she split horses on the inside and moved up on the leaders with 3/16 to go. Inside the final furlong she passed Conference Call and drew away to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:37.00. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 6-1 Mad About You in third, while 7-5 favorite Laureldean Gale raced in midpack but failed to fire when asked by Frankie Dettori, finishing eighth. Shortly after the finish, Zarkava jumped a shadow caused by camera equipment mounted above the finish line.
Sporting Life chart

On the left is Zarkava in the air while jumping the shadow and on the right is her rather painful looking landing. Hopefully she was not injured while doing this. Her owner-breeder His Highness the Aga Khan said, "She could be very good. We have always held her in very high esteem. It is not a normal process but the trainer felt she would be better going straight to a Group 1 from a maiden because she is quite a stressed filly. Petite Etoile bred only one daughter, Zahra, and it's amazing to see through one daughter of a great race mare that she can continue to produce great race horses." Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre added, "We decided to supplement her in this race after her last serious piece of work over Chantilly racecourse, which was sumptuous. I was a bit worried 2f out though as she could not find the gap but her class made it look easy to overcome this."

Le Miracle wins the Prix du Cadran Casino-Theatre Barriere de Toulouse (G1) over Varevees

The last stakes race on the card was the €250,000 Prix du Cadran Casino-Theatre Barriere de Toulouse (G1), contested at a marathon distance of 4000 meters. 7-1 third choice Le Miracle took over the lead from 15-1 pacesetter Juniper Girl after the first 1 1/8 miles, then opened up at the top of the stretch. 5-1 second choice Varevees, who stalked the pace in second the whole way, closed on Le Miracle in deep stretch but Le Miracle held her off to win by a short head in 4:29.80. It was another 3 lengths back to 2-5 favorite Yeats, who was fourth early but lacked his usual late kick and was no match for the first two.
Sporting Life chart

The trophy presentation for the Prix du Cadran with jockey Dominque Bouef dropping the lid to his cup. Winning trainer Werner Baltromei said, "This is my first Group 1 race and the horse was working so well in the lead up. We didn't think we could possibly beat Yeats. Dominique (Boeuf) rode a beautiful race and did everything right. He will now go for the Prix Royal-Oak and then have a similar program next year."

If you want to understand some of the differences between racing in North America and France, check here.

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