CHANTILLY, France--Never mind best 3-year-old in Europe. Is Enable now the best 3-year-old in the world?
“We haven’t got any other 3-year-olds to match her,” Lord Teddy Grimthorpe said. “She has to be.”
Juddmonte’s racing manager was smiling as he dared to flex the superlatives Sunday after the latest pride and joy of the rich stable – Enable – cruised to an emphatic victory in the $5.88 million Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. And it was not even close.
So at the risk of kneejerk hyperventilation, do we dare to declare her the best racehorse in the world?
“She’s now five Group 1 wins in a row – all by large margins,” Grimthorpe said. “She’s a very, very special filly. On that performance pound-for-pound she’s right up there with the greatest, isn’t she?”
With record-breaking jockey Frankie Dettori patiently biding his time, Enable (4-5) cruised past pace-setting rivals like a souped-up sports car using the fast lane to blow past family sedans. She finished with a 2½-length win in Europe’s richest and most prestigious race, ending her busy year in emphatic fashion.
“She travels so well, and then when you’re balanced she goes, and when you come she goes again,” said trainer John Gosden, who won the Arc with Golden Horn two years ago and now with Enable. “She’s a very exciting, majestic queen of a filly.”
A mild close by Cloth Of Stars (23-1) got him second place for seven-time Arc-winning trainer André Fabre. Third-place Ulysses (12-1) tried but failed to keep up with Enable. Then again, that was how it turned out for him in August in England in the King George Stakes, which marked the first time that Enable beat the boys.
“She is the best filly I’ve ever ridden,” said Dettori, who celebrated in his usual fashion, leaping from the irons into the winner’s enclosure. As usual for a big race he was surrounded by a crowd of celebrating fans and the ever-clicking shutterbugs, this time at the Chantilly Racecourse that has hosted the last two Arcs while the race’s traditional Parisian home – Longchamp – is being rebuilt.
Now Dettori has won the Arc five times, an unprecedented accomplishment that breaks his tie with six other jockeys.
“I’m the first one to get to five,” Dettori said with as much sheepishness as bravado. “It’s a great achievement. But I’ve had 29 goes at it, so five is not so good a strike rate.”
The rain that had been in the long-range forecast never materialized beyond a couple millimeters Friday night and a bit of mist Sunday. That left the track on the soft side of good – more like yielding in American terms – and never a threat to provide a bottomless path. The two Aidan O’Brien runners that led the first two-thirds of the race – Idaho and Order Of St. George – set an honest pace that crushed the hopes of any long-shot closer looking for a fluke.
Idaho’s inevitable surrender of the lead came in the last 500 yards, where the home stretch comes out of a three-furlong climb from the bottom of the course. It was like Enable was rising over the horizon.
“I had free air on my left,” Dettori said. “I got to the point I was actually running away around the bend. I was striking Order of St. George’s heels, I was going that well. As I got to the 400 and I asked her to go, she just went. She’s got that burst of three or four lengths, and then she sustains it. It actually happened too easily. Usually in an Arc something happens. It was so smooth and so effortless, I was shocked.”
Really, though, it was not so much a huge burst of speed for Enable as it was her eating up of the ground in front of her. She must be getting used to it. In her current, six-race winning streak that began in May with a listed stakes, the three-year-old filly sired by the Irish stallion Nathaniel has won by an average of four lengths.
The winning time – 2:28.69 for the 2,400 meters (14 short of 1½ miles) – was five seconds slower than last year’s Arc record set by Found on a drier course
Although Enable was ruled out of the Breeders’ Cup next month and any other races this year, third-place Ulysses figures to be there. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute said Sunday it was a “maybe” depending on the colt’s post-race condition, but he all along said that his 4-year-old would be pointed to the Turf championship at Del Mar.
After Rhodendron (9-1) and Hydrangea (4-1) finished one-two in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opéra for 3-year-old fillies, O’Brien said that both would probably be sent to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Fourth-place Wuheida, trained by Charlie Appleby, and 11th-place Senga, by Pascal Bary, have also been pointed in that direction.
Taareef, a 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, could land in the Breeders’ Cup Mile after winning Saturday’s Grade 2 Daniel Wildenstein. Rouget sounded as if he preferred Del Mar to other options – the British Champions’ Mile and the Hong Kong Mile.
O’Brien said that Coolmore would weigh Breeders’ Cup options with its string of juveniles, including the filly Happily, which beat the boys in the Grade 1 Jean Lagardere for 2-year-olds. She and Clemmie, winner of Saturday’s Group 1 Cheveley Park at Newmarket, England, are under consideration for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Two more O’Brien 2-year-olds – US Navy Flag and Mythical Magic – may land in the Juvenile Turf. US Navy Flag won the Group 1 Middle Park on Saturday at Newmarket, and Mythical Magic was fifth in the Lagardere.
O’Brien has collected 22 Group/Grade 1 victories this year, three short of the record set by the late Bobby Frankel in 2003.