06/03/2006 11:00PM

Darsi wins French Derby


What the Aga Khan and 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-quraters length winner, had recently won a 1 9/16-mile affair here at Chantilly. Runner-up Best Name had broken his maiden in a 1 1/4-mile Longchamp allowance last time, while Arras, who finished a short neck behind Best Name in third, was losing for the first time following allowance scores at Saint-Cloud and Bordeaux.

That all three are improving sorts is one thing, but their accession was aided by the defection of Visindar and Linda's Lad to Epsom as well as the questionable form of the French Derby's group race winners Art Deco, who finished fourth, as well as Aussie Rules, Barastraight and Aspectus, all of whom finished out of the money on Sunday.

A Polish Precedent colt out of a mare by the Aga Khan's foundation stallion Darshaan, the 7.60-1 Darsi was never worse than fifth throughout the 1 5/16 miles. He led at the 16th pole, clocking a very fast time of 2:05.80 on good ground that was riding fast all afternoon.

The Andre Fabre-trained Arras had taken the lead approaching the quarter pole but failed to see out the trip while Group 3 Dee Stakes winner Art Deco closed with a rush for fourth, beaten just a length for all the money. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Aussie Rules, winner of the one-mile French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp on May 14, failed to threaten in coming home seventh, 3 lengths behind the winner.

The Irish Derby on July 2 is the next logical stop for Darsi. If he goes to the Curragh that day, he could meet Epsom Derby winner Sir Percy as well as the third, fourth and fifth at Epsom, Dylan Thomas, Hala Bek and Visindar.

* Kieren Fallon has silenced rumors that he was displeased with the decision to allow Horatio Nelson to run in Saturday's Epsom Derby after his mount was inspected by vets prior to the race. Speaking at Chantilly where he rode Aussie Rules to finish seventh in the French Derby on Sunday, Fallon said the decison to run the Danehill colt was made together by trainer Aidan O'Brien and himself. The rider blamed the accident on an uneven bit of ground in the stretch, similar to the one that caused English Oaks runner-up Rising Cross to stumble on Friday. Horatio Nelson was euthanized after having broken both the cannon bone and the sesamoid in his right foreleg.