The Niarchos family's Karakontie
tenaciously outfought Prestige Vendome
and narrowly won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I, French Two Thousand Guineas) May 11 at Longchamp.
Stephane Pasquier had to call upon all Karakontie's reserves for the neck victory over his determined rival in the French classic. The 11-10 favorite with Racing Post, Karakontie covered 1,600 meters (about one mile) in 1:41.06 on good to soft turf, earning his fourth win from six career starts.
Karakontie raced in close attendance to the front-runners and gave a powerful response in the final furlong to prevail in the battle to the finish line.
Prestige Vendome's longshot stablemate, Pornichet
, finished third at 54-1 odds, 1 1/2 lengths back in the 12-horse field. The pair is trained by Nicolas Clement.
Karakontie was making his second start of the season for trainer Jonathan Pease after finishing second by a neck in the April 13 Prix de Fontainebleau, a race in which Prestige Vendome finished fourth.
Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family, told Racing Post that Karakontie's options include the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I, French Derby) and the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I), as well as races at Epsom and Royal Ascot.
British bookmakers William Hill cut Karakontie's odds for the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) from 25-1 to 20-1.
As a top performer last year among France's 2-year-olds, Karakontie won three of four starts with one second. He won his debut at Compiegne in July, then was denied a by a just nose in his stakes bow in the Prix Francois Boutin in August at Deauville. He bounced back with consecutive wins in the Prix La Rochette (Fr-III) in September and Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-I) a month later, both at Longchamp.
Karakontie is a Japanese-bred from the next-to-last crop of Bernstein, who died at age 14 in 2011 from complications of colic. His dam is the Sunday Silence mare Sun Is Up, whose dam, Moon Is Up, is a half sister to 1993 French Two Thousand Guineas winner and prominent sire Kingmambo and 1994 Prix de Diane (Fr-I, French Oaks) winner East of the Moon.
Sun Is Up is half sister to South African group I winner Amanee. She has produced two other stakes winners from five winners overall, Sunday Sunrise and Bottega.