After her four-length rout in Chantilly's Prix de Diane (Fr-I) June 14, many are wondering if undefeated Stacelita could be this year's Zarkava.
Red-hot trainer Jean-Claude Rouget seems to think she could be and is leaning toward a try in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) this fall after Stacelita's dominating performance for her fifth consecutive victory. Zarkava, who won the French Oaks in similar fashion, capped a fantastic season with a dominating win over males in last year's Arc.
"I would think that Stacelita will go for the Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) and then the Arc -- that would be a good program for her," Rouget told Racing Post afterward.
No one is doubting anything Rouget says these days after the trainer claimed his 11th group win of the season with the 3-year-old French-bred daughter of Monsun. Teaming with jockey Christophe Lemaire, he won the French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I) last month and the French Derby (Fr-I) with Le Havre a week ago.
Lemaire was aboard once again as Stacelita, owned by Martin Schwartz and Ecurie Monastic, claimed the 1 5/16-mile Diane on ground that was listed as good to soft. Rouget also sent out the runner-up, Tamazirte.
The heavily-favored Stacelita set up in the second spot as Onega Lake set out on the lead. Always going well, the brown filly hit the front with more than a quarter-mile to run, then quickened away from her rivals to win easily in the final furlong. Tamazirte beat the rest home, rallying from ninth in the straight to edge the rallying Plumania for second. Celimene finished well for fourth in the 12-horse field.
The main question surrounding Stacelita coming into the race was whether she would handle the faster course after her six-length win in the 10-furlong Prix Saint-Alary on soft going at Longchamp May 17.
"This is enormous for me," Rouget said. "If you had asked me in February I would have said this could never happen.
"I was worried about the ground for Stacelita and worried about the trip for Tamazirte," he added, "but Stacelita has gone on the ground and the other filly has stayed the distance so it has worked out well."