In the days leading up to the 38th Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in California, usracing.com is publishing profiles on the horses in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Saturday, Nov. 6). The profiles will be updated following the post-position draw on Monday, Nov. 1 (5:30 p.m. ET)
By Ed McNamara
In 1999 I was there at Longchamp, along with thousands of passionate Japanese fans, when their hero El Condor Pasa finished a close second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. That performance signaled a rise for Japanese racing and breeding that has continued ever since. You may recall Japan-based Lani, a deep closer who finished third in the 2016 Belmont Stakes after running ninth in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness.
Japan still hasn’t won an Arc, but its superstar Orfevre did run second in 2012 and 2013. Orfevre happens to be the sire of Distaff longshot Marche Lorraine, but his 5-year-old daughter’s resume doesn’t come close to measuring up to daddy’s. Marche Lorraine never has won a graded stakes, and the Distaff will be her first try for a Grade 1 trophy. It seems most unlikely that her 11,000-mile round trip will be profitable.
Her trainer, however, has excelled in races far from home. The gregarious Yoshito Yahagi trains Loves Only You, a Grade 1 winner in Japan and Hong Kong and a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She finished a close third to multiple Grade 1 champion Mishriff this past March in the Dubai Sheema Classic. Last year, Yahagi swept Japan’s Triple Crown with the colt Contrail, who was second Oct. 31 in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho. Two years ago, Yahagi took the Cox Plate, one of Australia’s most prestigious races, with Lys Gracieux. Yahagi, nattily dressed in a fedora with a pink band, enjoyed a wild celebration after watching his mare’s wide rally from far back.
If you think it’s time for Japan’s first Breeders’ Cup victory, a longshot play on turf standout Loves Only You would make more sense than one on stable companion Marche Lorraine.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
Owner: Carrot Farm
Career record: 20-8-2-2
Career earnings: $1,805,677
Pedigree: Orfevre-Stay Gold, by French Deputy
Running style: Closer
Betting advice: She’s 0-for-3 lifetime in graded stakes in Japan, where she hasn’t faced standouts such as Letruska, Shedaresthedevil and Malathaat. No chance.
Notes: Marche Lorraine hasn’t run since winning a 1 1/4-mile ungraded stakes on Aug. 12 at Mombetsu Racecourse in Japan. Some positives: She’s 3-for-3 on fast tracks and 2-for-3 with a second at the Distaff’s 1 1/8-mile distance … What’s in a name? “La Marche Lorraine,” written in 1892, is a patriotic song that is part of the repertoire of France’s military bands … Marche Lorraine breezed 5 furlongs in 1:05.60, the slowest of 15 works at the distance, on Oct. 29 at Del Mar.
|1||Private Mission||8-1||Bob Baffert||Flavien Prat|
|2||Royal Flag||8-1||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario|
|3||Malathaat||4-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|4||Blue Stripe (ARG)||30-1||Lafranco Dettori||Marcelo Polanco|
|5||Clairiere||12-1||Ricardo Santa Ana,Jr||Steven Asmussen|
|6||Letruska||8-5||Fausto Gutierrez||Irad Ortiz, Jr.|
|7||Horologist||30-1||William Mott||Junior Alvarado|
|8||Shedaresthedevil||4-1||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux|
|9||As Time Goes By||15-1||Bob Baffert||Luis Saez|
|10||Marche Lorraine (JPN)||30-1||Yoshito Yahagi||Oisin Murphy|
|11||Dunbar Road||15-1||Chad Brown||Jose L. Ortiz|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.