Filly Paita Upsets Criterium de Saint-Cloud
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 11/6/2004 3:29:25 PM
Last Updated: 11/7/2004 6:38:53 PM

The German-trained filly Paita headed Yehudi inside the final 100 yards and edged away to win the $259,320 Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) for 2-year-olds Saturday.

Ridden by Andreas Suborics for trainer Mario Hofer, Paita was held up at the back of seven-horse field until the final quarter mile of the 10-furlong event as Yehudi and Eligibilis led throughout. Suborics angled right for the winning move and the bay daughter of Intikhab kicked in for the final furlong, taking command in the final yards for a three-quarters of a length win over the Aidan O'Brien-conditioned Yehudi, who was ridden by Jamie Spencer. Laverock, ridden by Miguel Blancpain, finished another length behind in third, with Andre Fabre-trained Grand Bahama taking fourth, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winning filly.

Sent away at odds of 20-1, Paita was timed in 2:19 over very soft turf. Favored Musketier broke well and was poised for a rally in the straight but never threatened while finishing fifth. Eligibilis was next.

The winner had only a minor win at San Siro on her resume prior to capturing Saturday's group I heat. Hofer said he's planning on more such victories.

"We will be coming back to France next year for the Prix de Diane (French Oaks)," Hofer told Racing Post. "To be honest we were only hoping to take fourth or fifth place this afternoon so Paita must be out of the ordinary."

"Earlier in the week she worked very well on testing ground with an older horse who had won a listed race. We were looking for a race over 10 furlongs for Paita and the Criterium was our last chance."

Spencer had Yehudi on the lead throughout and the son of Sadler's Wells took the lead from a game but tiring Eligibilis early in the stretch. He gave way grudgingly to the fast-closing Paita, who became the first filly to win the major European juvenile test since Goldamix in 1999.

"The plan was to ride her for a place so that's why I left things so late ... with 150 meters left to run I knew we had won. She has to be very good and has a fine turn of foot."

Manfred Hofer and Stall Steigenberger bought the winner at the Tattersalls April 2-year-old sale for $60,000.

Yehudi was impressive in defeat.

"There is plenty of improvement in him and the colt is still a baby," Spencer noted. "Don't forget he only started racing under a month ago. Yehudi is a little idle and he wasn't really at home on the sticky ground."

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