05/29/2003 11:00PM

Dalakhani heavy favorite


Dalakhani, the outstanding half-brother to Daylami, puts his unbeaten record on the line in Sunday's Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) at Chantilly over 1 1/2 miles. Christophe Soumillon rides Dalakhani, who takes on just six others, and will almost certainly start as an odds-on favorite.

Although the race may be light on numbers, it is high on quality, though realistically Dalakhani should win. The only reason for doubt is the good to firm going, a surface the colt has never raced on.

Super Celebre and Papineau are the pick of his rivals, and should at least make him work for his success.

Runner-up to Dalakhani last month in the Group 1 Prix Lupin over 1 5/16 miles, Super Celebre is a son of Peintre Celebre. He was readily swept aside in the Lupin, and may have to settle for a minor role again.

Papineau comes from the red-hot stable of Andre Fabre, and has Frankie Dettori in the saddle. Papineau was an impressive winner in listed company last time. He steps up markedly in class Sunday.

The other Group 1 race on Sunday's card is the nine-furlong Prix Jean Prat, also for 3-year-olds. Eight runners will go to post, and Marshall and Vespone, who were both winners in group company last time, look to be the strongest prospects.

Marshall landed the Group 3 Prix de Guiche. Vespone, trained by Nicolas Clement, won the Group 3 Prix la Force on May 5 and looks on the upgrade. In the Prix la Force, he defeated Vadalix by two lengths, and Vadalix beat Marshall earlier in the season.