French Fifteen swept past Pakal in the final yards to register an impressive 1 1/4-length victory in the Criterium International (Fr-I) at Saint-Cloud Oct. 30.
A field of 11 juveniles faced the starter in the International, with slight favoritism falling on the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Saint Pellerin. French Fifteen, a son of Turtle Bowl trained by Nicolas Clement, was dismissed at odds of 10-1 despite having won three of his five previous starts going into the race.
After a clean start, jockey Thierry Thulliez settled French Fifteen at the rear of the field as Swing Alone and Pakal went to the front. Colm O’Donoghue had Learn just off those two in third, as Saint Pellerin ran in fourth.
With two furlongs to run, the pace quickened as Learn pulled alongside Pakal to challenge for the lead. French Fifteen was still anchored at the back of the field, with a wall of horses in front of him.
Learn edged in front of Pakal as the field entered the home straight. Pakal refused to fold however, and dug in for the battle through the stretch. Thulliez finally found an opening and extricated French Fifteen from traffic, moving the colt into the clear on the outside. The chestnut responded with a dazzling turn of foot to shoot past Pakal and Learn to take the lead, pulling away in the final yards to win easily.
Pakal held on for second by a half-length over the closing Bonfire, who edged out Learn for the show spot. Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:43.50 over very soft going.
French Fifteen was bred in France by Mr. and Mrs. G. Forien, and is owned by Raymond Tooth, a well-known divorce attorney in London. French Fifteen is out of Spring Morning, by Ashkalani.