06/15/2014 10:16AM

Avenir Certain moves to 5 for 5 with Prix de Diane win


Avenir Certain ran her perfect record to 5 for 5 and captured her second straight Group 1 race when charging down the outside to overpower her rivals in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) on Sunday at Chantilly.

Avenir Certain debuted at the minor Bordeaux le Bouscat racecourse Oct. 8 and made her second and third starts over Polytrack, and few could have envisioned her emerging as France’s leading 3-year-old filly. A general 14-1 shot in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), her Group stakes debut, Avenir Certain won by 1 1/4 lengths, and she proved equally effective Sunday stretching beyond one mile for the first time in her career in the 1 5/16 miles Prix de Diane.

Local Hero set the pace around the right-handed Chantilly course as the 12-horse field strung out in six pairs of two, Avenir Certain and jockey Gregory Benoist in the second-to-last pairing. There, they stayed until the field swung into the long straightaway, with Benoist keeping his mount behind horses as she began to surge forward. Benoist tipped to the outside with about 1 1/2 furlongs left, and Avenir Certain, who runs low to the ground and with surprisingly inefficient action, did not take long to inhale the several horses ahead of her. She reached the front in the final half-furlong and was going much the best, winning by one length, Benoist rising in the saddle to celebrate flashing past the finish.

Behind the winner, less than two lengths separated the next eight finishers, with longshot Amour A Papa edging the Martin Schwartz-owned Xcellence for second and favored Shamkala, who encountered trouble in the stretch, just behind those two in fourth. Winning time over a course upgraded to “good” Sunday was a strong 2:05.37.

Avenir Certain’s trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, has become a Prix de Diane specialist, having won the race in 2009 with Stacelita and in 2012 with Valyra. Avenir Certain, bred in France by Mademoiselle E. Vidal, is by Le Havre and out of the Mark of Esteem mare Puggy. She is owned by E. Caro and G. Augustin-Normand.