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Horses Americans Should Know V: Montmartre

Given Curlin’s (relatively) disappointing finish in the Man O’ War, many European betting agencies have upped his odds for the Arc; they have also installed a new favorite in the appropriately-named Montmartre. Montmartre won the Grand Prix de Paris yesterday (Bastille Day, as you no doubt noticed) in very impressive style (video).

Despite his win, his Timeform rating places him in sixth, behind horses such as Duke of Marmalade and New Approach (and just slightly ahead of his stablemate, Zarkava). Unlike that of Zarkava, Montmartre’s family is a more recent addition to the Aga Khan’s operation; he was bred by SNC Lagardere Elevage, the commercial breeding operation for Jean-Luc Lagardère, who died in 2003. The Aga Khan purchased the entire business in 2004, including the stallion Linamix, who is the broodmare sire of Montmartre.

A grey 3-year-old, Montmartre made his racing debut in April of this year, finishing second in a 2000 m race at Longchamp. That effort was quickly followed by a win later that month over 2200 m. His first foray in Group company did not go terribly well (see below), but he rebounded in June in the Prix du Lys. He seems to relish the 2400 m distance (about 1 1/2 miles).

Montmartre was largely absent from the Arc picture after a disappointing finish in the Prix du Jockey Club (aka the French Derby — apparently the public address system noise upset him), but is now very much a factor. One wonders if the plan will be to start both Zarkava and Montmartre in the Arc (providing all goes well), and just which one of them Christophe Soumillon will decide (or be appointed) to ride.

Montmartre has certainly demonstrated an affinity for Longchamp; he’s never been out of the money in his four starts there. His lone up-the-track finish, mentioned above, was at Chantilly — and of course the unbeaten Zarkava seems happy enough at either track, although there is some concern that she prefers the ground not to be too soft. In any event, it’s going to be a very interesting Arc indeed with Montmartre added to the mix.

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