Entscheiden's Foret 3rd tops Japan team to Longchamp, as Arc runners bog down in heavy ground
Of Japan's four hopefuls to Paris Longchamp this year, only one succeeded in making the top three spots - Entscheiden in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret.
Before that, Chrono Genesis and Deep Bond in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe came home in 7th and 14th place, respectively, hampered by going brought on by heavy rains in the week preceding the race. Ikat was Japan's last runner for the day with a 13th in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera.
Though the results were less than stellar, fan support in Japan was sky high, with turnover on betting on the Arc alone amounting to nearly JPY5.4 billion, a record high and nearly double last year's amount.
First up for Japan was the 2,400-meter Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the day's No. 4 race with a local 4:05 p.m. post time. This year marked the 100th running of the world's arguably most prestigious race and the historic event ended in a shocking victory by longshot Torquator Tasso, a German-based 4-year-old colt trained by Marcel Weiss. Trainer Dermot Weld's Tarnawa, race second favorite in Japan, was second. Finishing third was the race favorite Hurricane Lane, trained by Charlie Appleby, who also fielded the 4th-place finisher, Adayar.
Japan's Chrono Genesis managed a seventh place under jockey Oisin Murphy, while Deep Bond, who had captured the Group 1 Prix Foy on Sept. 12 wire to wire, had to settle for last in the field of 14.
Going off as third favorite in Japan, Chrono Genesis was kept wide from the No. 14 gate and away from the pack for the first three furlongs. She continued to race well when Murphy brought her in for position and she chased the leader from just before midway. Chrono Genesis made a good effort in the stretch, but was spent from about 150 meters out.
Chrono Genesis had arrived in France only nine days prior to the Arc some three months after bagging her second Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen in a row. Prior to that she'd just missed winning the Dubai Sheema Classic by a neck following her win of the Grade 1 Arima Kinen (the Grand Prix).
Trainer Takashi Saito expressed his satisfaction with the ride. "She was able to run relaxed and I think her position was good. She looked to still have something left when she turned into the stretch," said the Ritto-based 39-year-old. "But, she couldn't make headway on the heavy track and in the end, she just got tired."
Oisin Murphy, a native of Ireland, said he'd expected a strong pace "so I decided to take her to the outside away from the others and wait to get a position. She traveled smoothly and still felt good at the top of the stretch. But, when I gave her the go sign she wasn't able to pick it up." The 26-year-old Murphy, who has ridden hundreds of races in Japan, added, "The turf was heavy but it was nothing like heavy turf in Japan. It's too bad she's couldn't win. She was in great shape and the staff really did a good job. This doesn't change the fact that she is a star."
Chrono Genesis, a 5-year-old daughter of Bago, has eight wins from 16 starts and has only missed top 3 twice. The Arc was her first time to finish off the board.
Deep Bond, who had given much hope to Japan after his runaway win of the Prix Foy (G2, 2,400 meters) on Sept. 12, was the sixth choice of punters in Japan. Yet to win a top-level race, he came closest with his second in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) this year and had made the board last year in both the Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger). Having enjoyed fast turf in the Foy, however, Deep Bond was to meet his match in the heavy, slippery ground of the main event.
Though ridden by 2020 Arc winner jockey Cristian Demuro in the Foy, it was jockey Mickael Barzalona up in the Arc, with Demuro aboard Raabihah. Breaking from the No. 5 gate, Barzalona stayed wide rear of midfield and urged Deep Bond on from 600 meters. The 4-year-old colt, however, struggling with the ground, quickly tired, and was eased over the final furlong.
"I was told that he would be keen in spots," Barzalona said. "I simply wasn't able to get the position I'd wanted," the 30-year-old Frenchman said. This race was just too much for him. He was exhausted."
Trainer Ryuji Okubo met the finish with concern that something had gone terribly wrong. "I thought he'd been injured," he said of his first Arc runner. "But when I saw how he was moving over the last the final stage, his legs and heart seemed OK."
"He wasn't able to get any traction early on and he ran over the worst ground, but he had no choice. He rallied a bit in the final turn. This feels like the Longchamp baptism," said Okubo.
"The results were unfortunate this time but with the heavy rain this week, Deep Bond was up against a surface that you could say he had yet to experience. I did have my hopes up though and I heard from Barzalona that he was unable to get a forward position. The horse gave it his all but was exhausted."
"He's been checked and there's nothing wrong. I'm hoping to get back on our feet and move forward," Okubo said.
Deep Bond was unable to better sire Kizuna's Arc result, a 4th-place finish in 2013 after winning the Prix Niel (G2, 2,400 meters).
There was also no luck to be had by the only Japanese jockey riding in the Arc - Yutaka Take. Take was not on a Japan-based horse, but with the Aidan O'Brien-trained, Japanese-owned Broome, who had finished second to Deep Bond in the Prix Foy and only managed an 11th-place result in the Arc. "He was slow at the break but we were able to recover nicely and get a good position," said Take. "He traveled well but was starting to flag going in to the stretch.
"I'm feeling quite proud to have been given a leg up by Aidan O'Brien and definitely hope to come back next year and win," said the 52-year-old Take, who was riding in his sixth Arc and for the first time for a non-Japan-based trainer. Take's previous Arc rides include Kizuna in 2013 and Deep Impact, who in 2006, crossed the line in third place but was later disqualified.
Japan-based horses last made the top three in the Arc in 2013, when Orfevre finsihed second for the second year in a row. Japan has yet to win the Prix de l'Arc Triomphe, a prize they've sought since 1969, when Speed Symboli took on the challenge under jockey Yuji Nohira.
On the heels of the Arc was the Prix de l'Opera, a 2,000-meter top-level distaff race. Japan's 4-year-old Deep Impact filly Ikat, the second Japan-based horse to take on the Prix de l'Opera, finished 13th of 14 to match L'Arc's 13th-place finish in the race in 2018.
"She was in good shape," said trainer Takashi Saito, "but the ground just didn't suit. She couldn't get any traction the whole way." Rider Oisin Murphy praised his mount. "She really tried hard but the ground was incredibly slow and not for her."
The 1,400-meter Group 1 Prix de la Foret had a 6 p.m. post time and was won by the Irish-bred Space Blues under William Buick. Japan's Entscheiden, a longshot locally, revenged the poor assessment of his chances with a third-place finish under jockey Ryusei Sakai amid the field of 15.
Sakai gave the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Entscheiden an aggressive ride that saw the 6-year-old pressing the leader Pearls Galore at the 200-meter mark, but the gray had no more to give in the final strides and was passed by winner Space Blues. "He was in excellent condition," said Sakai of Entscheiden, "and I'd been looking forward to the race. It was a G1 though and the lineup was strong. I really did think he was going to win for a moment. He gave it his all."
The Deep Impact-sired Entscheiden was Japan's third runner in the Foret and bettered both Blarney Stone's 8th in 2013 and Geniale's 14th in 2018.
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