Nearly one month before the Breeders’ Cup is held at Del Mar, another important step on the road to the World Championships meet takes place Oct. 3 at Longchamp in Paris, France.
Sunday, five Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races are on tap at France’s premier racecourse. They are headlined by the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the richest race in Europe and one that has fielded multiple Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf winners in the last six years. In all, eight Group 1 races are scheduled at Longchamp over the weekend.
What It Is: The races are run at Longchamp, a track only about five miles away from the Eiffel Tower by car and three miles from the monument that gives the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe its name. Longchamp ran its first race in 1857 but it wasn’t until Oct. 3, 1920 that the first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was run.
Today, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – also known as the “Arc” - is not only the richest flat race in Europe at €5 million (about $5.8 million), but also one of the most prestigious turf races in the world. It isn’t unusual to see horses coming from as far as Japan for the race, but U.S.-based horses rarely run in the Arc or any of the other races at Longchamp. Even so, you’ll see familiar faces with each of the Arc winners from 2015 to 2019 running at the Breeders’ Cup before or after their Arc victory.
Found and Enable won both the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and Enable became first horse to win the Arc and the Turf in the same year – 2018. Found’s victory came the year before her 2016 Arc win when she defeated the 2015 Arc winner Golden Horn at Keeneland. Waldgeist was an Arc winner-in-waiting when he finished fifth to Enable in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf the year before he beat the superstar mare in the Arc.
The Arc has also had an impact on the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf through the years. In 2004, the great Ouija Board finished third in the Arc less than a month before winning her first of two Filly and Mare Turfs, scoring at Lone Star Park (she would also win in 2006 and finish second in the Filly and Mare Turf in 2005). In 2002, Islington finished fifth in Arc before posting a third-place finish in that fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She would go on to win the Filly and Mare Turf the following year.
Where to Watch: The Arc and two other Challenge Series races (the Prix Marcel Boussac and the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere) will be broadcast live on FS2 Sunday morning during a special “America’s Day at the Races” show presented by NYRA from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Key Races: The races at Longchamp have proven to be perfect preps for Breeders’ Cup runners, and five of Sunday’s races are “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series qualifiers for the World Championships.
The most important race of the weekend for those looking for Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf contenders is the Arc, discussed above. This year, 2020 Longines Turf winner Tarnawa is the early Arc favorite five days prior to the race. If she can win the Arc, she’ll join Found as winners who won the Turf before the Arc in the last 10 years.
The Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Last year, Prix de l’Abbaye runner-up Glass Slippers won the Turf Sprint. That mare had also won the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2019. Glass Slippers is entered for the Prix de l’Abbaye again this year as she searches for her second win in the race in three years.
The Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. No Jean-Luc Lagardere winner has trained on to win the Juvenile Turf, but runner-up Pounced was a winner of the Juvenile Turf back in 2009, so it’s worth paying attention to the non-winners. It’s also worth noting that 2013 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Karakontie did come over to the Breeders’ Cup the following year to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac is a Challenge Series qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. As with the Jean-Luc Lagardere, no Marcel Boussac winners have won the Juvenile Fillies, the best finish a fourth-place effort from Albigna in 2014. The Marcel Boussac has been a major steppingstone for future Breeders’ Cup performers, however.
The most recent Prix Marcel Boussac winner to hit the board in a Breeders’ Cup race was 2018 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf runner-up Wild Illusion, who won the French race in 2017. The 2016 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Wuheida won the 2017 Filly and Mare Turf, and 2014 winner Found not only was successful in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2015 but finished third in the Turf the following year (the year she won the Arc). Misty For Me finished third in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf after winning the 2010 Prix Marcel Boussac.
It’s only been a year since the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera Longines produced a Breeders’ Cup winner. However, the winner did not come in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, which the Prix de l’Opera is a qualifier for, but instead in the Longines Turf. That horse is, as noted above, Tarnawa, who won the Prix de l’Opera by a head and then defeated Magical in the Longines Turf by a length at Keeneland. Audarya, who finished third to Tarnawa in last year’s Prix de l’Opera, upset the Filly and Mare Turf on the same Keeneland Saturday card.
Overall, no Prix de l’Opera winner has also won the Filly and Mare Turf, but that hasn’t stopped the race from giving the Breeders’ Cup some top contenders. 2017 Prix de l’Opera winner Rhododendron finished second to Wuheida in the same year’s Filly and Mare Turf (Wuheida was fourth behind Rhododendron the month before and Queen’s Trust, winner of the 2016 Filly and Mare Turf, was unplaced). 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Midday was another runner who hit the board in the Prix de l’Opera (third) before winning at the Breeders’ Cup.