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News from Europe

Camelot has post five; Orfevre draws 18

By Tom Krish

Tom Krish with jockey Olivier Peslier at Arc post position draw
Camelot’s name was called out first as the clock struck 10:35 am On Friday, Paris time. The Aidan O’Brien star drew post five. Shareta came next and she got post eleven. Saunois, the winner of the French Derby and the Prix Vermeille, took post two. Orfevre was called out sixth. A gasp went up in the ballroom of L’Arc Paris, a swanky club near the Arc De Triomphe, when the translator announced that the Japanese superstar had drawn 18. In the same breath, the translator mentioned that it was back in 1977 that Alleged won the Arc coming out of post 18.

Bayrir, the Secretariat Stakes hero at Arlington Park, was given post 14. Fourteen was the draw for the mighty Dalakhani when he won in 2003. Great Heavens, supplemented at a cost of 100,000 Euros, drew post seven.

The big Japanese press group in attendance was visibly disappointed. At Saint Cloud, a course that held a meeting Friday afternoon, I asked Christophe Soumillion how post 18 would impact his chances. Jockey Soumillon gave a terse answer. “No comment.”

The O’Brien camp, delighted with getting Frankie Dettori’s services for Camelot, got a boost with the draw going its way. Trainer O’Brien paid a compliment to Dettori and said that the ground will not be a concern on Sunday. “Frankie is a world class rider. His experience will be critical in a race like the Arc.”

The Arc will be run at 4:25 pm local time on Sunday. We will have eighteen runners. Saturday is likely to be rain-free. Sunday, Arc day, is going to be a sunny day. I want to call it perfect racing weather.

There are eight races in Saturday’s Longchamp card. Two races are reserved for Arabian horses. There are four Group II races. They will all be on the grass. In fact, the 16 races on Saturday and Sunday represent the greatest weekend of turf racing in the world.

Three year-olds will go in the 15-furlong Prix Chaudenay. The Prix Daniel Wildenstein is over a mile. Cirrus Des Aigles, Olivier Peslier up, heads the field in the Prix Dollar over one mile one furlong and 165 yards. Fillies and mares will be in the spotlight in the Prix de Royallieu over a mile four furlongs and 110 yards.

It is big time racing action the world over on Saturday. Belmont Park in New York hosts three Group I contests. The Frizette Stakes over a mile will be on the dirt. The Foxwoods Champagne Stakes for freshmen will be over a mile on the dirt. The Jamaica Handicap for sophomores will be over a mile and one furlong on the grass.

Let us take a look at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Fillies and mares are the focus of attention in the Group I First Lady Stakes over a mile on the grass. Then there is the Dixiana Breeders; Futurity (Group I) fir two year-olds on the polytrack. The distance is a mile and 110 yards. Wise Dan takes center stage in the Shadwell Turf Mile.

In Europe, Ascot has a seven-race card starting at 2:00 pm. Fontwell has a jumps card with seven events with first post at 2:20 pm. Gowran Park in Ireland has a jumps program. There are seven races with a 2:15 pm start. Newmarket has a lucrative eight-race card that gets under way at 1:40 pm. Redcar in Scotland has eight races and the first is at 2:05 pm. Wolverhampton offers an all weather card of eight races with a 5:50 pm start. The last race is at 9:20 pm.

After the post position ceremony, I got a ride with the Qatar Sheikh entourage to Saint Cloud, an out-of-this-world course near Longchamp. Saint Cloud is left-handed. I stayed for six races. There were two races worth 100,000 Euros each for Arabian colts and Arabian fillies.

Camelot is getting the most attention. The draw has gone in favor of the dual Derby winner. Camelot’s work on Wednesday has raised the optimism level. There is no question that Galileo colt will be the post time favorite in the French tote.

There was a Friday 8 pm harness card at Vincennes. I did not go. Let us say I could not go. There are two long days coming up.


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