Prix de l'Opera may offer BC clues
PARIS -- The winner of a competitive renewal of the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp on Sunday will automatically qualify for a spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, but a more important race on the Arc undercard, the Prix de l'Opera, may reveal more about possible Breeders' Cup runners at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 and 7.
At 1 1/4 miles, the Group 1, $373,000 Opera is an ideal prep for the Filly and Mare Turf. A half-dozen first-class fillies and mares are included in the 12-runner field, and any one of them could prevail without raising an eyebrow.
Midday, a 3-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream trained by Henry Cecil, may hold a slight edge. A head second to Sariska in the 1 1/2-mile English Oaks, she was compromised by heavy ground when third to the same filly in the Irish Oaks. Last time, she handed Rainbow View a 2 1/4-length beating in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Nassau Stakes. With good ground underfoot, she can prevail with Tim Queally aboard.
It could be a tight fit, however, with 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet winner Alpine Rose and recent 1 1/4-mile, Group 2 Beresford Stakes winner Chinese White both poised for their best efforts. German Oaks winner Night Magic is improving all the time, but defending titleholder Lady Marian, who has not prospered under the Godolphin banner, looks overmatched.
Crystal Capella has a license to upset. The winner of her last six starts, she has run only once since her victory in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Pride Stakes last October. That was a win against males in the 1 5/16-mile Group 3 Middleton Stakes at York on May 14, when she defeated Dar Re Mi by a head. She will be dangerous if Michael Stoute has her ready off the layoff.
* The Australian-bred South African Group 1 winner War Artist is the likely favorite in the Group 1, $373,000 Prix de l'Abbaye. The Orpen 6-year-old followed his win in the six-furlong Group 2 Goldene Peitsche at Baden-Baden with a course and distance score in the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert on Sept. 13 and will have Olivier Peslier aboard. Leading French hope Stern Opinion was second in the Petit Couvert, but this race could belong to Benbaun, the 2007 winner who will have his preferred fast ground.
Borderlescott cannot be ignored as he outlasted Benbaun to win the five-furlong, Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last time. Fleeting Spirit is in form, as he won the six-furlong Group 1 July Cup and was second in the Haydock Park Sprint Cup under the same conditions.
An oddity concerning this Breeders' Cup Win and You're In event surrounds Monsieur Chevalier. The winner of 6 of his 8 career starts, the Richard Hannon trainee is only a 2-year-old and would be ineligible for the Turf Sprint, even if he won the Abbaye.
* Dick Turpin is capable of taking the measure of his better-bred rivals in the Group 1, $518,000 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere for juvenile colts. The Hannon-trained son of Arakan is perfect through four races, with his three-length victory in the six-furlong, Group 2 Richmond Stakes pointing him out, especially as that came at the expense of Godolphin's Buzzword, who tries him again after having won the Group 3 Prix La Rochette over the Lagardere course and distance. The Aga Khan's precocious Siyouni showed signs that he was already backing up when 1 1/2 lengths second in the La Rochette.
* Two years ago, Zarkava emerged from a one-mile maiden score to win the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac for the Aga Khan and Alain de Royer-Dupre. On Sunday, that team will try the same route with Rosanara. By Sinndar, she was the four-length winner of her Longchamp debut, but she will be tested by another juvenile filly in the $437,000 mile in Wedding March, a daughter of Dalakhani trained by Andre Fabre for Godolphin. She, too, landed her Longchamp maiden debut by four lengths, so there is virtually nothing to choose between them. Aidan O'Brien will saddle Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes winner Cabaret, but the Galileo filly may not be up to the challenge.
* Yeats makes what could be the last start of his glorious career in the Group 1, $373,000 Prix du Cadran, the 2 1/2-mile test of stamina in which he has failed on two previous occasions. Well beaten last time in the Irish St. Leger, the four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner will be the sentimental favorite with Johnny Murtagh aboard.
But the winner could be the Irish St. Leger winner Alandi. Kasbah Bliss, a Grade 1 hurdle winner in England trained in France by Francois Doumen, also will make his presence felt.
MORE HORSE RACING HEADLINES
- Curlin, trainer Asmussen top list of HoF finalists
- Santa Anita Handicap boasts strong field of eight
- Conquest Titan, Vinceremos top TB Derby
- Bond Holder under 24-hour monitoring at clinic
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
BREEDERS' CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPSThe Breeders' Cup World Championships year-end races are recognized as one of the ultimate tests of a Thoroughbred's talent and ability, showcasing horse racing at the highest levels of international competition. Race Results and Video
November 6 & 7
• Zenyatta wins Classic, stays perfect
• Conduit repeats in Breeders' Cup Turf
• Longshot Furthest Land takes Dirt Mile
• Goldikova repeats in BC Mile
• Vale of York stuns Juvenile field
• Dancing in Silks upsets Sprint
• California Flag flies in Turf Sprint
• Pounced jumps on Juvenile Turf win
• Life is Sweet best in Ladies' Classic
• Informed Decision wins F&M Sprint
• Midday takes inside route in F&M Turf
• She Be Wild takes Juvenile Fillies
• Tapitsfly outduels in Juv. Fillies Turf
• Man of Iron captures BC Marathon
ESPN.com: Help | Press | Advertise on ESPN.com | Sales Media Kit | Interest-Based Ads | Corrections | Contact Us | Site Map | Jobs at ESPN | Go.com