07/12/2009 11:00PM

Beheshtam tops Grand Prix de Paris


Beheshtam, as low as 10-1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, puts his tall reputation on the line at Longchamp on Tuesday in the Group 1, $836,000 Grand Prix de Paris in which he will face four horses saddled by Aidan O'Brien and two owned by Sheikh Mohammed.

Run over the Arc course and distance of 1 1/2 miles, the Grand Prix has become France's Bastille Day feature in recent years, during which time it has been won by the O'Brien-trained Scorpion, subsequent winner of the classic St. Leger Stakes, and by Rail Link, subsequent winner of the Arc itself. Beheshtam resembles last year's Grand Prix winner Montmartre in that he is owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre. By Peintre Celebre, he won the listed Prix de l'Avre over the Grand Prix course and distance on May 26, then finished fourth in the French Derby over an inadequate 1 5/16 miles in just his third career start.

Like Montmartre, who finished 15th in his French Derby try, Beheshtam will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon. The most dangerous of his seven rivals could be Cavalryman. Trained by Andre Fabre for Sheikh Mohammed, the Halling colt was just a half-length second to stablemate Cutlass Bay in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe before winning the listed Prix Matchem by six lengths last time. Fabre's talented young stable rider Maxime Guyon will ride.

The other Sheikh Mohammed runner is Godolphin's Italian Derby winner Mastery. A son of French Derby winner Sulamani, he was third in the two-mile, Group 3 Queen's Vase in his most recent outing at Royal Ascot.

Black Bear Island is probably the best of the O'Brien runners. A full brother to High Chaparral, he sandwiched a victory in the Group 2 Dante Stakes and a third in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes around a subpar 10th in the Epsom Derby. Colm O'Donoghue retains the ride as Johnny Murtagh opts for Age of Aquarius, the Epsom Derby seventh who had previously won the Group 3 Lingfield Derby Trial. Dante runner-up Freemantle tries 1 1/2 miles for the first time while Hail Caesar is likely to be employed as the Ballydoyle pacesetter.

Wajir, trained by Elie Lellouche for Ecurie Wildenstein, won the 1 3/8-mile, Group 2 Prix Hocquart at Longchamp on May 4 prior to his dull 12th in the French Derby. He deserves this chance to redeem himself.