Monday, October 7, 2013

Guest Post: Is there a Matriarchal Trend in Racing?

--Mark Cramer
   Orfevre (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}) came from Japan for the 2012 G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and defeated most of the best colts and older horses in Europe. But he lost to a filly. He went back to Japan a month later and beat the best colts and older horses in Asia. But he finished second behind another filly. The 5-year-old came back for a second try at the Arc this past Sunday and soundly defeated the best colts and older horses in Europe and elsewhere, but he finished second behind yet another filly: undefeated Criquette Head trainee Treve (Fr) (Motivator {GB}).
   What's happening here at the upper echelon of racing?
   Two races later, the mare Moonlight Cloud (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) won her fourth consecutive race this year--all against the boys--in the G1 Prix de la Foret at 7 furlongs, for trainer Freddie Head, who also took the femme fatale Goldikova (Ire) (Anabaa) to the U.S. for three annual wins versus the boys in the GI Breeders' Cup Mile.

Moonlight Cloud                      Michele MacDonald
   The last three winners of the Arc de Triomphe have been fillies (four of the past six) and we can't say this is exclusively a French phenomenon since the 2011 Arc winner was Danedream (Ger) (Lomitas {GB}), was trained in Germany.
   English horses were nowhere to be seen among the top five finishers, but sixth place (of 17 horses) in the Arc went to Al Kazeem (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), even though he stumbled at the start after departing from the extreme outside post. However, the best Arc possibility from England may have been The Fugue (GB) (Dansili {GB}), who happens to be a filly as well, and who easily disposed of Al Kazeem and other males in the prestigious G1 Irish Champions S. at Leopardstown a month earlier. Trainer John Gosden reluctantly withdrew The Fugue from the Arc because of the soft going.
   In leaving Orfevre in her wake, Treve had to overcome a terrible trip, racing outside, "nose against the wind," and yet she won by an impressive margin of five lengths.

Treve                                      Michele MacDonald
   Treve was the best, and deserved to win, but I felt a tinge of sorrow for the throngs of Japanese racing fans who came from the other side of the world to root for their beloved duo of Orfevre and Kizuna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) (who finished a valiant fourth). Japanese horses have been knocking at the door of the Arc for years now. But these fans never give up and they'll be back again and again.
   The Japanese presence provided an exquisite layer of exhilaration to the ambiance at Longchamp. (It might be a good idea for race tracks around the world to import some Japanese fans.)
   Maybe the next time, they will come to the Arc with a filly. That may be their best chance.

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