Competitive Fields Set for French Classics
French group I winner Karakontie looks the standout in a field of 14 3-year-olds for the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I, French Two Thousand Guineas) May 11 at Longchamp.
The same day is the fillies' equivalent, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I, French One Thousand Guineas). Carded one race earlier, it makes the race the first French classic of the season. Both events are run at 1,600 meters (about one mile).
The Niarchos family's Karakontie, a Japanese-bred son of Bernstein, was one of France's top juveniles last year. He won the Prix La Rochette (Fr-III) in September and Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-I) a month later, both at Longchamp, to cap a season in which he recorded three wins and a second from four starts under Jonathan Pease.
The colt makes his second start of 2014 after failing by a neck to catch familiar rival Ectot, also a standout 2-year-old, in the Prix de Fontainebleau April 13. The finish reversed the pair's one-two finish in their career debuts last July at Compiegne. Ectot bounced back to five consecutive victories including the Criterium International (Fr-I) at Saint-Cloud in November.
Jean-Claude Rouget has entered the Aga Khan's Kiram, who after a runner-up effort to launch his career last summer at Deauville, put together a three-race winning streak that included the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (Fr-II) and Prix Eclipse (Fr II). By Elusive City, he comes into the Guineas after being denied by a nose in the Prix Djebel April 3.
Rouget also is represented by Martin Schwartz's two-time French stakes winner Salai. The consistent Myboycharlie colt has a 4-1-1 record from seven career starts, most recently winning the listed Prix Omnium II by a neck March 25 at Saint-Cloud in his first start of the year.
Andre Fabre is double-handed as well with Godolphin's Decathlete and Alain and Gerard Wertheimer's Galiway.
In his only two outings last year, Decathlete was geared down in an easy win by three lengths over Kiram in his maiden debut at Deauville, then came back and finished a close second to Karakontie in the Prix La Rochette. The Kentucky-bred Medaglia d'Oro colt made a successful bow to start his sophomore campaign when winning a conditions race at Longchamp April 21.
Galiway, by Galileo, won his debut at Saint-Cloud last September in his only start of the year, then finished third behind Karakontie and Ectot in the Prix de Fontainebleau in April.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien sends Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) runner-up Giovanni Boldini, who enters off a fourth-place finish in the United Arab Emirates Derby UAE-II) March 29 in his first outing of 2014.
Leading in mid-stretch in the Breeders' Cup last November at Santa Anita Park, the son of War Front was overtaken by winner Outstrip and finished a half-length back in second.
Guineas entrant Prestige Vendome was third in the Criterium International after winning the listed Criterium de Lyon in September for Nicolas Clement, who trains the Orpen colt for a partnership that includes breeder Guy Pariente. He comes in off a fourth in the Prix de Fontainebleau.
Jean-Claude Seroul's homebred Baby Foot is a steady-performing Footstepsinthesand colt with four wins and a second from six outings. He comes in with two straight wins at Cagnes-Sur-Mer that include his breakthrough stakes victory in the Prix de la Californie Feb. 9 for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Muwaary, a hombred son of Oasis Dream, takes a giant step up in class. After winning his debut last July at Newbury for trainer John Gosden, he was sidelined the rest of the year with an injury. He came back in April at Newbury, looking promising in taking a handicap by 2 3/4 lengths.
Ten stakes winners will meet in the 16-horse field for the French One Thousand Guineas, which features a budding rivalry between Indonesienne and Lesstalk In Paris.
The Wertheimer brothers' group I winner Indonesienne, a Muhtathir filly, wore down pacesetter Lesstalk In Paris to win the Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches (Fr-I) by three-quarters of a length last October at Longchamp. The pair hooked up again in the Prix de la Grotte (Fr-III) in April with J. L. Tepper's Lesstalk In Paris, by Cape Cross, turning the tables in a three-quarter-length triumph over Straight Thinking. Indonesienne finished third.
Fabre captured the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) last weekend at Newmarket with Miss France and sends Juddmonte Farm's homebred Straight Thinking to the French race. The Kentucky-bred Mizzen Mast filly has three group III placings, two of which were seconds to Lesstalk in Paris, including the Prix d'Aumale in September.
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