In case you missed it, Zarkava put on an amazing performance this weekend to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp- the turf race with the world’s largest purse (roughly 4 million Euros – whatever that equates to in dollars).
What’s amazing about this? A number of things really. For starters, Zarkava is a she – so if that doesn’t put to rest all of the nonsensical talk bashing trainer Larry Jones for running his filly, Eight Belles, in the 2008 Kentucky Derby than I don’t know what will. We’re talking the richest and most competitive turf race in the world here. At one point Curlin’sconnections were hoping to send him to this race. Duke of Marmalade was there, as were many of the world’s top older turf runners. This is the first filly to win the Arc in 15 years.
Secondly, she’s just a 3-year-old! Not only is she taking on boys, but older boys -and good ones at that! We may have Zenyatta here in the states as a female superstar (andStardom Bound as our top up-and-coming juvenile filly), but we’ve nothing like Zarkava. The last time a female filly scored in the Arc was 1982 (Aklyda). Clearly, we’re not dealing with just any run-of-the-mill competitor here.
Zarkava trailed for most of the race running near the rail, then exploded in the final 2 furlongs to outdistance eventual 2nd place finisher Youmzain (who ironically finished 2nd in last year’s Arc to Dylan Thomas). The win improved her lifetime record to 7 wins in 7 starts – which is likely where it will end with the filly seemingly being pointed by Aga Khan to a breeding career after her victory in the Arc.
So how will we remember this amazing athlete? Granted, from a technical standpoint this was the slowest running of the Arc in five years, but the image I’ll have forever burned into my memory is of jockey Christophe Soumillion celebrating wildly – throwing his helmet and whip into the crowd and then dismounting in euphoric fashion.
We unfortunately won’t see Zarkavain the Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita later this month, but several of the Arc runners are likely to make the trip. Duke of Marmalade, 7th place finisher in the Arc, is rumored to be pointing towards the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Likewise, Youmzain (2nd place finisher) would appear pointed towards the Breeder’s Cup Turf.
Hats off to the connections of Zarkava. That was a run for the ages and will likely be the bar by which the top international fillies are compared for years to come.