In addition to Alpinista in the main event, British-trained horses captured two other Group 1s on Arc Day. The Platinum Queen was an apt history-maker in the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1), and Kinross was the class act in the Prix de la Foret (G1). But the French turned their own Group 1 triple in Breeders’ Cup Challenge events, with juveniles Belbek and Blue Rose Cen as well as the 38-1 Place du Carrousel in the Prix de l’Opera (G1).
Prix de l’Abbaye (G1)
Middleham Park Racing’s The Platinum Queen became the first two-year-old since Sigy, back in 1978, to beat her elders in this about five-furlong sprint. Runner-up to Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)-bound Highfield Princess in the Nunthorpe (G1), the Richard Fahey filly was just denied by Trillium back among juveniles in the Flying Childers (G2). No one could catch her on Sunday, however, as the 8-5 favorite made the most of her substantial weight concession.
Always prominent with Hollie Doyle, The Platinum Queen attended Mo Celita before forging ahead. White Lavender and Coeur de Pierre, spotting 17 and 21 pounds, respectively, bore down on her, but could not get past. The Platinum Queen, toting 116 pounds, lasted by a short neck from White Lavender in :58.65 on the very soft going.
Coeur de Pierre was another neck away in third, followed by Mo Celita; slow-starting Moss Tucker; New York City; Ponntos, who fared best of the trio racing apart on the near side; Mitbaahy; Raasel; Flotus, who missed the break; Teresa Mendoza; Caturra; Miramar; defending champ A Case of You, marooned on the wrong side; Mooneista; Agiato; Berneuil; and Tees Spirit. Castle Star was withdrawn.
The Platinum Queen succeeded where her own sire, Cotai Glory, had failed as a juvenile (2014) and as an older horse (2016).
“The filly always gives her all,” Doyle said, “and it is a huge success for Middleham Park Racing.”
Tom Palin of Middleham Park felt confident as the race unfolded.
“I never really had a worry throughout the race – she was quickly out and grabbed the rail,” Palin said. “Hollie looked very happy even 150 meters from the post. She has always had a huge heart and there was never any need to worry, I am delighted. For a two-year-old to win this race is an exceptional performance, and it hasn’t been done in modern times.”
While The Platinum Queen can’t use her “Win and You’re In” perk for the Turf Sprint, which is not open to youngsters, she can apply the benefit to another Breeders’ Cup race, presumably the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1). She sports a 7-4-2-0 mark, including a juvenile course record at Glorious Goodwood.
Prix de la Foret (G1)
Marc Chan’s Kinross likewise justified 8-5 favoritism in the Foret, and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) is now in his sights. Trained by Ralph Beckett and piloted by Frankie Dettori, the five-year-old gelding was poised right behind the pace-prompting Fang. The early leader, Japan’s Entscheiden, was accosted by a rail-skimming Tenebrism, who ultimately could not sustain her bid. But Kinross sluiced through on the outside to win his first Group 1 by two lengths, covering about seven furlongs in 1:24.40.
Malavath rallied for best of the rest. Another length back was Entscheiden, replicating his third in last year’s Foret. Goldistyle, a daughter of the sublime Goldikova, got up for fourth. Tenebrism, New Energy, Fang, Mangoustine, Sandrine, and Accakaba concluded the order under the wire.
“He was my best chance today,” said Dettori, who also rode Torquator Tasso to a third-place finish in his Arc title defense. “He had his distance and ground, and it was easy for him. I followed Fang, who I thought had a good chance. With 300 meters to go, I asked him for his effort, and he picked up all by himself. He had been devoid of a Group 1 win this year, and so this was a perfect (outcome). He could go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Kinross, fourth here a year ago to next-out Mile star Space Blues, sports a mark of 20-7-1-1. The son of Kingman was once a classic hopeful, but didn’t pan out, and only recently has he hit his prime. Since just missing as the defending champion in the Lennox (G2), he’s now turned a hat trick including the City of York (G2) and Park (G2).
“As a three-year-old, he was already on the very big side,” Beckett said. “After being gelded, he had a difficult time of it, although he’s really come into his own now. He has performed magnificently all year, and it’s fantastic to win this today. I trained this horse’s dam (the stakes-winning Selkirk mare Ceilidh House), and he’s a really special horse for the stable.”
Prix de l’Opera (G1)
There was nearly another British success with 7-5 favorite Nashwa in the Opera, but Place du Carrousel nailed her in an $84 upset of this “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Not seen since finishing 10th behind Nashwa in the June 19 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1), the Andre Fabre filly was rejuvenated by the break, and the conditions.
Nashwa was arguably undone by drawing post 13, and her alertness in the early going forced Doyle’s hand to go to the front. Tuesday, similarly situated from post 16, emerged as the close stalker. Nashwa expended energy to put Tuesday away in the stretch, only to have the fresh legs of Place du Carrousel deny her.
Under a well-judged ride by Mickael Barzalona, the Al Shaqab Racing and Ballylinch Stud runner surged from off the pace to get up by three-quarters of a length. Her time for about 1 1/4 miles, 2:12.64, points to the testing ground.
Above the Curve stayed on strongly in the final strides for third, missing second by a short head. My Astra delivered the best result for the older brigade in fourth, trailed by Rumi, Tuesday, Mqse de Sevigne, Trevaunance, Jupyra, Fall in Love, Insinuendo, Agave, Rosacea, La Parisienne, Zefania, and a tailed-off Ebaiyra.
Place du Carrousel had form in the book from the classic trials, having captured the Prix Cleopatre (G3) and placed second to Above the Curve in the Prix Saint-Alary (G1). Her absence since her French Oaks disappointment was a question even for Fabre, who sent her for a racecourse gallop at Compiegne as an ersatz prep. It worked, as Place du Carrousel advanced her record to 6-3-2-0.
“They went off fast from the gates,” Barzalona said, “but I managed to hold a good position on my filly. She did backpedal a bit during the race, but that enabled her to get a breather. She didn’t expend any unnecessary energy in this ground, and my filly came with a steady run. Once she swung around Rumi, she finished with great gusto.”
By Lope de Vega and out of the Group 2-winning Duke of Marmalade mare Traffic Jam, Place du Carrousel has plenty of upside. Fabre left the door open for the Filly & Mare Turf.
Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1)
Earlier, Fabre and Barzalona connected for another upset, courtesy of the 18-1 Belbek in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). Apparently exposed following a fourth in the Prix Robert Papin (G2) and a fifth in the Prix de Cabourg (G3), the Nurlan Bizakov homebred excelled over a seventh furlong on very soft going.
The first surprise came pre-race, when hot favorite The Antarctic was withdrawn thanks to a travel mishap. As reported by Paris-Turf, the Aidan O’Brien colt sprang a shoe in transit, and the French vet found him lame. The Antarctic had the measure of Belbek in his last two, so it’s an open question if he could have confirmed form, or if the new variables were a game-changer.
Settled a few lengths off front-running Vicious Harry, Belbek powered home in the final furlong. By that point, Gamestop had gotten first run from his stalking spot, but Belbek nabbed him by a neck in 1:22.98. Breizh Sky showed late interest to slice between them, another neck away in third.
Shartash, who inherited the favorite’s mantle at even-money, trudged along for fourth. Vicious Harry faded to fifth, followed by the filly Tigrais, who dipped out of the gate, and Pivotal Trigger.
Belbek’s 6-3-0-0 record reflects a prior stakes win in the June 19 Prix du Bois (G3), which might have marked him as a sprinter. But the Showcasing colt gets more stamina from his dam, a Makfi mare descended from Banks Hill.
“This victory means a lot,” Bizakov said, “because it is our first Group 1 success with the very first colt which we bred in France, a country where we tend to do well! We will see how the colt recovers from this race. It is possible that he will be supplemented for a British Group 1 race, the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1).”
Fabre himself cited the Oct. 22 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster as a target. If Belbek heads there, it’s a sign that he might not be as likely to use his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The Lagardere is also a stop on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, but its impact on the trail is doubtful.
Prix Marcel Boussac (G1)
In the companion Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), Blue Rose Cen handed young trainer Christopher Head his first Group 1 laurel in resounding fashion. A scion of the renowned racing family, he could be in position to emulate his father, Breeders’ Cup legend Freddie Head, if Blue Rose Cen accepts her free berth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
“It was really important to prove that the yard was capable of competing at this level of competition,” Christopher Head said. “We have been incredibly lucky to receive some very well-bred horses. She won the preparation race for this last time out (Sept. 8 Prix d’Aumale [G3]) and managed to make a successful transition up to Group 1 level.”
With regular rider Aurelien Lemaitre aboard, the 9-2 chance was perched just behind the pacesetting Shalromy. Kelina, the 2-1 favorite, was stalking nearby, but unable to lift. Blue Rose Cen dove to the inside in the stretch and put the race away, drawing off by five lengths while navigating the metric mile in 1:40.45.
Irish fillies fought out the placings. Runner-up Gan Teorainn was redoubtable on the rail to repel Never Ending Story by a short neck. Start Me Up was the same margin astern in fourth. Breege, early presser Ardent, Aspen Grove, Shalromy, Dandy Alys, Wed, Habana, and the eased Kelina rounded out the order of finish.
Yeguada Centurion’s homebred Blue Rose Cen has compiled a record of 6-4-1-0. The daughter of Churchill and Grade/Group 3 winner Queen Blossom was just outdueled by the smart Ballydoyle colt Victoria Road in a listed race at Deauville two back, prior to her d’Aumale.
“Blue Rose Cen is a little Ferrari,” Lemaitre said. “She is not very big but she has a huge heart. When she got to the front, she had a look around and then just kicked on. She is so easy to ride, and you can ask her to do anything. Then, once you ask her to go…she responds instantly.”