Dalakhani wins l'Arc de Triomphe
PARIS, France -- If there were any doubts as to who is the best 3-year-old in the world, Dalakhani laid them to rest with his victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
The Aga Khan's homebred Darshaan colt gave what was expected of him as the 7-5 favorite in the $1.87 million Group 1 mile and a half as he ran down the 32-1 Mubtaker a furlong from home to win by three quarters of a length.
A perfectly judged ride from Christophe Soumillon helped Dalakhani, as did a rather flat effort from High Chaparral, whose third-place finish, five lengths behind Mubtaker, might be explained by the sticky ground, which was given as an excuse by his rider Michael Kinane.
But there was no denying Dalakhani, who adds the Arc to his Group 1 tallies in the French Derby, the Prix Lupin and the Criterium International. The winner was also giving the present Aga Khan his third Arc triumph after Akiyda in 1982 and Sinndar three years ago.
But Dalakhani will not run again this year. "He is a horse for breeding," the Aga Kahn said, "and my operation is basically one for breeding. As to whether he will stay in training next year, give me some time to thing about it."
If the Aga speaks to his trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, he may opt to run Dalakhani in 2004.
"I think Dalakhani would be even better at four than he is now," the Frenchman said. An unprepossessing looking gray, Dalakhani may still have some growing to do, as well as some improvement to show.
The game Mubtaker had opened up a 3-length lead at the quarter pole and was giving ground grudgingly in the latter stages in his first crack at Group 1 company.
"We are still considering the Canadian International," said Mubtaker's owner, Hamdan Al Maktoum. If the Silver Hawk 6-year-old does travel to Canada, he would be in a position to gain a measure of revenge, as the Aga Khan plans to run his Irish Derby and King George winner Alamshar at Woodbine.
Among the Arc disappointments were Ange Gabriel, who came home ninth, beaten 16-1/2 lengths, and Epsom Derby winner Kris Kin, who was 31 lengths further behind in eleventh, clear evidence of just how testing the ground at Longchamp was on this day, a day which belonged to Dalakhani.
Zee Zee Top caused an 18.30-1 surprise in the Prix de l'Opera as she prevailed by a head in a late duel with the ever unlucky Yesterday.
Defending champ Bright Sky looked like the winner approaching the furlong grounds, but couldn't withstand the dual challenge of the first two, finishing a short neck behind Yesterday in third. The winning time was 2:08.00.
A British-bred daughter of Zafonic, Zee Zee Top had not won since taking a listed race at York in May. With Kieren Fallon aboard, the Michael Stoute-trained filly got first run on Yesterday, who had to check entering the stretch and was still last of ten at the quarter pole. A heartbreaking second to Mezzo Soprano in the Prix Vermeille and to Casual Look in the English Oaks, Yesterday is still a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf with Aidan O'Brien expected to make a decision on her participation by the end of the week.
The withdrawal of Oasis Dream from the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp took much of the luster out of the 5-furlong Group 1 contest, which went to the 20.50-1 Patavellian.
Ridden by Steve Drowne, the Machiavellian 5-yearold was stepping up from the handicap ranks where he had won the Stewards Cup and the Bunbury Cup. Timed in 59.30, the Roger Charlton trainee held on by a length from the 36-1 The Trader with the 35-1 The Tatling a neck further back in third .
Oasis Dream is still on course for the Breeders' Cup Mile after having finished second in the Sept. 6 Haydock Park Sprint Cup to Somnus, who finished seventh in the Abbaye on ground he was supposed to like.
The Prix Marcel Boussac for juvenile fillies went to the beautifully bred Denebola, who outlasted Green Noon by a short neck to take the Group 1 mile in 1:40.90 at odds of 9.10-1. By Storm Bird out of Coup de Genie, Denebola is a full sister to Glia and Loving Kindness from the family of Machiavellian and Exit To Nowhere.
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings and owned by the Niarchos Family, Denebola was giving trainer Pascal Bary his third Boussac triumph in the last three years, the others being Amonita in 2000 and Six Perfections last year.
Like the Abbaye favorite Oasis Dream, the choice in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (formerly the Grand Criterium), Diamond Green, was scratched because of the ground. That left it to the Juddmonte Farms colorbearer, American Post, to grab the spoils from just five rivals. The Criquette Head-Maarek-trained son of Sadler's Wells won going away by four lengths from Chrming Prince while getting the seven furlongs in 1:24.50 with Richard Hughes aboard.
In the 2 1/2-mile Prix du Cadran, the sticky ground stopped the two highly accomplished British stayers, Ascot Gold Cup winner Mr Dinos and 12-time group race winner Persian Punch, as Westerner ran down long time leader Germinis to score an 10.40-1 upset.
Runner-up in his last two tries to third-place Darasim in the Prix Gladiateur and the Prix Kergorlay, the Elie Lellouche-trained, Ecurie Wildenstein-owned Westerner was a willing 5-length winner, getting the 20 testing furlongs in 4:37.50. Mr Dinos and Persian Punch weakened to finish far back in sixth and eighth respectively.