Sea the Stars. How great is he? That’s been the topic of commentators, bloggers, writers, and “official” raters of form, but almost to a man (and woman) those who have hedged against the winner of six Group 1 races this year (from 6 starts) fault his Arc performance on the form line through Youmzain, the runner-up.
A winner of 6 of 27 starts, Youmzain is a 6-year-old son of Sinndar, who was trained by John Oxx – STS’s trainer — to win the Arc in 2000 for the Aga Khan. Youmzain is a dual Group 1 winner, having won the Preis Von Europa in Cologne in 2006 and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in 2008, but there’s no question four of his best lifetime performances have come at Longchamp – home of the Arc.
Three of those races were in the Arc itself. He was 2nd to Sea the Stars this year, 2nd to Zarkava in 2008, and 2nd to Dylan Thomas in 2007. He didn’t compete in the Arc in 2006, but he was 2nd that year in the Longchamp Arc prep, the Group 2 Prix Niel. The winner of that race? None other than Rail Link, who won the Arc in his next start!
In essence, then, Youmzain has finished 2nd to four Arc winners at Longchamp over the last four years, while the rest of his career — two Group 1 wins aside — has been OK for a horse that picks up checks and Group race placings but rarely wins at the top level. In fact, he’s winless in his last 7 starts, although he’s placed 6 times.
Youmzain was 20-1 in the Arc this year, 12-1 last year, and 66-1 the year before. On each occasion, however, he significantly outran his odds at Longchamp, which tells me that he’s a horse for that course and that his form changes dramatically when he sets foot on the Bois du Boulogne. At Longchamp, he’s been 2nd four times in 4 starts — each time to the Arc winner.
He was 2 lengths behind Sea the Stars, 2 lengths behind Zarkava, a head behind Dylan Thomas, and a half-length behind Rail Link in the Niel. That’s a pretty good line of form, because Sea the Stars and Zarkava — 15 for 16 lifetime together – were obviously better than Rail Link and Dylan Thomas, both multiple Group 1 winners.
Evaluate Youmzain’s form on his Longchamp bias, elevate it from the rest of his record, and recompute, gentlemen (and ladies)!