Racing at Saint Cloud July 14, France's national Bastille Day holiday, which celebrates a pivotal event in the French Revolution, provided a few fireworks of its own.
The showcase piece of the eight-race card was the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, a group 1 event for 3-year-olds over 12 furlongs. Once the leading flat race in France—it was supplanted by the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1920—the event was first raced in 1863.
Nine sophomores, some representing the most established breeding/racing programs in Europe, entered the starting gate for the 2017 running. Coolmore sent a trio in Venice Beach, Orderofthegarter, and Spanish Steps; race sponsor Juddmonte entered Ice Breeze; Parabellum represented Godolphin; and the Aga Khan's stable started Shakeel.
Permian, trained by Mark Johnston for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, took the lead, navigating the track's undulations with William Buick at the helm. Olivier Peslier aboard Falcon Wings stalked the pacesetter with Aidan O' Brien's Venice Beach a watchful third.
Shakeel, looking for his first stakes victory, waited midfield with Christophe Soumillon sporting the familiar green and red silks of the Aga Khan. Godolphin's Parabellum missed the break and trailed in the closely bunched field.
As the group turned into the final run to the finish, the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Shakeel moved into contention and two furlongs from the wire engaged with Permian in a thrust-and-parry battle to the wire, where Shakeel prevailed by a nose in 2:30.42 over the good going.
The even-keeled Venice Beach was third another length behind and a length better than Ice Breeze and Falcon Wings. Leaving himself with too much to do, Parabellum, nevertheless, closed strongly for sixth.
French-bred Shakeel represents the eighth generation developed by the Aga Khan's family from the mare Pale Ale whom his father, Prince Aly Khan, acquired for 770 guineas from the December mare sale in 1949. Since the acquisition, each of the mares through seven generations has produced at least one high-quality stakes winner.
Shakeel is the 50th black-type stakes winner for the Aga Khan's homebred stallion Dalakhani, European Horse of the Year in 2003. He was foaled from the unraced Medicean mare Shamiyra, whose dam Shemala (Danehill) and granddam Shemaka (Nishapour) also produced group stakes winners to the cover of Dalakhani: Stakes winner produced group 3 winner Shemiyla and group 1 winner Shemaka foaled group 3 victor Shemima.
Shakeel is the seventh homebred to win the Grand Prix de Paris for the present-day Aga Khan IV and joins Charlottesville (1960), Sumayr (1985), Valanour (1985), Khalkevi (2002), Montmartre (2008), and Bekhabad (2010).
The supporting feature, the Prix Maurice de Nieuil (G2), went to Godolphin's 4-year-old homebred Talismanic. Sporting a bald face and four white stockings, the flashy bay son of Medaglia d'Oro out of the Machiavellian mare Magic Mission, a group 3-winner from the Highclere family, easily dispatched his nine competitors in the 14-furlong event.
Trained by Andre Fabre and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, Talismanic won by 1 1/4 lengths over Marmelo and Sirius in 2:58.40, to post his fourth stakes and first group victory.