04/21/2003 12:00AM

Dalakhani on track for French Derby


Dalakhani maintained both his unbeaten record and his high hopes for the French Derby with a victory in the Prix Greffulhe at Longchamp on Sunday, but Tomahawk was an unlucky fourth in his French 2000 Guineas prep, the Prix de Fontainebleau.

In taking the 1 5/16-mile Group 2 Greffulhe by a rather comfortable half length from Jipapibaquigrafo, Dalakhani was duplicating the victory of his sire Darshaan in the same race 19 years ago. A half brother to Daylami, Dalakhani will attempt to repeat Darshaan's French Derby triumph at Chantilly on June 1.

But both owner the Aga Khan and trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said that Dalakhani might go first in the 1 1/4-mile Prix Lupin at Longchamp on May 11. The 2-5 favorite was not fully wound up for the Greffulhe. In fact, his margin of victory compares unfavorably with the 2-1/2 lengths by which Super Celebre had beaten Jipapabaquigrafo, who will go straight to the French Derby, in the Prix Noailles on April 6.

Rider Christophe Soumillon said that the slow pace was not to Dalakhani's advantage. The final time of 2:17.30 on good ground was 6.3 seconds off Ragmar's 1996 stakes record.

Tomahawk, still last of six and without running room approaching the eighth-pole in the one-mile Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, was angled out by Michael Kinane and closed with a rush to be fourth behind the 3.10-1 Clodovil. Just half a length separated the first five finishers as a painfully slow pace produced a winning time of 1:44.00. Clodovil, a Danehill colt trained by Andre Fabre, will line up for the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) on May 11, as will his second-place stablemate, Shuttle Diplomacy, third-pace Snipewalk, and Tomahawk, who will try to repeat the victory of the ill-fated Landseer for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

The Group 3 Prix de la Grotte turned into a replay of the listed Prix La Camargo as Maiden Tower, Fidelio's Miracle and Welcome Millenium, separated by half a length and a head, filled the first three places in the French 1000 Guineas trial. The first two are trained by Henri-Alex Pantall and the winner paid 14.30-1 while getting the mile in 1:40.80.