08/07/2009 12:00AM

De Gheest seems a wide-open affair

Andrew Watkins
Marchand D'or, hero of the last three editions of the Maurice de Gheest, will pass this year.

Deauville will host its first Win and You're In Breeders' Cup race on Sunday when the winner of the Group 1, $287,000 Prix Maurice de Gheest will automatically qualify for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Three Group 1 winners are included among the 12 who will go forward in the straight 6 1/2-furlong dash, but any one of seven could win without causing a surprise.

The gelding Marchand d'Or has won the last three runnings of the Maurice de Gheest but is absent this time around after having run well below par in his last four outings. Trainer Freddy Head is giving him the summer off to prepare for a defense of his Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp title, but Head will be represented by last year's French juvenile champ, Naaqoos.

An Oasis Dream colt, Naaqoos took the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere going seven furlongs last fall but was upset in the listed Prix Djebel by subsequent French Derby winner Le Havre. Just sixth in the French 2000 Guineas at a mile, Naaqoos may be outrun over this shorter distance off a 15-week absence.

Serious Attitude may be the best in a tight fit. Trained in England by Rae Guest, she eked out a narrow victory in the six-furlong, Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in October. After a long winter's rest she was unplaced in the 1000 Guineas but bounced back to win the six-furlong, Group 3 Summer Stakes at York on July 10. Four for five lifetime, she will be ridden by Eddie Ahern.

The 4-year-old filly Lesson in Humility was just a head second in the Summer after an even sharper third against colts in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes.

King's Apostle was second to Utmost Respect in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes and should have a strong say in the outcome, while the South African-bred mare Tiza will contend off her score in the six-furlong, Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis.

African Rose, one of two entrants trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, won the six-furlong, Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup in September and was just three-quarters of a length second in last year's Maurice de Gheest but has disappointed in her last three. Delvita, a head second to Tiza in the Ris-Orangis, has a longshot chance for French provincial trainer Jean-Vincent Toux and big-race rider Olivier Peslier.