06/05/2006 12:00AM

Darsi atones for stablemate Visindar's loss


What the Aga Khan and jockey Christophe Soumillon failed to achieve in Saturday's Epsom Derby with Visindar, they accomplished in Sunday's Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly as the unheralded Darsi prevailed to win the French Derby.

International handicappers may be scratching their heads over the names of the first three finishers in the $1.92 million classic, as none of them had ever won anything better than an allowance race. Darsi, the three-quarter-length winner, had recently won a 1 9/16-mile race at Chantilly. Runner-up Best Name had won his maiden in a 1 1/4-mile Longchamp allowance last time, while Arras, who finished a short neck behind Best Name in third, lost for the first time following allowance scores at Saint-Cloud and Bordeaux.

A Polish Precedent colt out of a mare by the Aga Khan's foundation stallion Darshaan, Darsi (7-1) was never worse than fifth throughout the 1 5/16 miles. He led at the sixteenth pole, clocking a course-record time of 2:05.80 on good ground that was riding fast all afternoon.

The Irish Derby at The Curragh on July 2 is the next logical stop for Darsi.

Epsom Derby: Sir Percy takes four-horse photo

Jockey Martin Dwyer brought Sir Percy up the rail with a scintillating late run to win the $2.35 million Epsom Derby in a blanket four-horse finish Saturday. The race also saw the breakdown of Horatio Nelson, who was later euthanized.

A son of European champion miler Mark of Esteem, the 6-1 Sir Percy just got up to defeat the 66-1 maiden Dragon Dancer by a short head, with the pacesetting Dylan Thomas another head behind in third and recent maiden winner Hala Bek - who was making just his second start - in fourth, a head behind Dylan Thomas. It was another two lengths back to the 2-1 favorite, Visindar, the previously undefeated French challenger who found little when the real running began entering the stretch. The time for the 1 1/2 miles was 2:35.23 on ground labeled good to firm.

There was no doubting Sir Percy's class. He had capped an undefeated juvenile campaign with a pair of victories at seven furlongs in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes and the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, England's definitive 2-year-old race. In his seasonal debut on May 6 he ran second to George Washington in the 2000 Guineas in his first try at a mile. Out of a mare by the 1969 Epsom Derby winner, Blakeney, Sir Percy proved on Saturday that the European classic distance is well within his scope.

The Irish Derby on July 2 looms as his next objective, where he could be joined by the fast-improving Hala Bek.

The start of the Derby was delayed by 10 minutes as veterinarians checked the condition of Horatio Nelson. With his trainer, O'Brien, present, the 11-2 second choice was finally allowed to enter the gate, and jockey Kieren Fallon had Horatio Nelson in perfect position a few lengths off the lead when disaster struck at the three-sixteenths pole.

As Visindar loomed up alongside, Horatio Nelson's legs gave way beneath him. He stumbled and was immediately pulled up, soon to be vanned off, having broken a front leg.

* Bullish Luck hit a big triple at Tokyo on Sunday as his victory in the $1.85 million Yasuda Kinen gave him the Asian Mile Challenge title and, along with it, a $1 million bonus. Added to the Yasuda Kinen's first prize of $913,000, Hong Kong invader Bullish Luck had himself a $1,913,000 payday in the Grade 1 mile, in which he swept to victory by 2 1/2 lengths over last year's winner, Asakusa Den'en.