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Horses Americans Should Know III: Zarkava

This post also appears at TheRail.

Big Brown isn’t the only unbeaten three-year-old looking for racing glory this year; the French-trained filly Zarkava looks set to be a major story throughout the summer and beyond. Trained by Alain de Royer Dupré, she has won all four of her races effortlessly, despite going up against top-class competition. Her first race, at two, was an easy mile victory, followed by a supplemental entry one month later to the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac (a mile race for fillies on the Arc de Triomphe undercard) in which she outclassed an accomplished field. With the major European races over for the season, Zarkava had some time off.

Her three-year-old debut came in April, in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte, in which she handily defeated many of the same fillies who had attempted to challenge her last year. She announced her presence more emphatically in the French 1,000 Guineas on May 11th beating a large field and shaving half a second off the race record.

Zarkava’s success so far is hardly an underdog story; owned and bred by the Aga Khan, Zarkava has a regal pedigree (she shares her sire, Zamindar, with top-class miler Darjina) and trainer Alain de Royer Dupré has won many of the world’s most illustrious races – a short list would note the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Hong Kong Cup, the St. James’s Palace and just about every major French race including the Arc. She has been ridden in all four starts by Christophe Soumillon whose record is similarly impressive — indeed, perhaps more so given the fact that he is still a few years away from 30.

Zarkava’s next likely goal is the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) and then perhaps a residence at Royal Ascot; it seems likely that she will be aimed at longer distances. In the meantime, you can check out her impressive turn of foot on YouTube:

1 comment to Horses Americans Should Know III: Zarkava

  • G. Rarick

    Zarkava is so good that she forced Natagora to choose to run the French Derby rather than the Oaks. We’ll find out tomorrow if Natagora can be the first filly to win the French Derby since 1900. A formidable task, but apparently less daunting than facing Zarkava.

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