09/30/2004 11:00PM

Divine Proportions brings star power to card

Email

PARIS - While the .

A 2-year-old Kingmambo filly who will start as a short-priced favorite in the Group 1, $300,000 Boussac, Divine Proportions has yet to put a foot wrong in four starts, all of them against colts. The one-mile Boussac will be her first race beyond six furlongs, and also her first solely against fillies.

Trainer Pascal Bary had toyed with sending Divine Proportions in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but as she had already beaten the boys in the Group 3 Prix du Bois, the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, and the Group 1 Prix Morny, he felt that a victory over fillies would ensure her the European juvenile filly championship. Christophe-Patrice Lemaire will ride Divine Proportions, whose main competition will come from the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale runner-up Portrayal and the British invader Queen of Poland.

Layman was womanhandled by Divine Proportions when he finished second by 1 1/2 lengths in the Morny, but the absence of his filly rival from the Group 1, $420,000 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere does not mean he is a shoo-in to win the seven-furlong juvenile contest. In fact, the Lagardere (formerly the Grand Criterium) looks as competitive as the Arc itself.

Early March, winner of the Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Chantilly for Criquette Head-Maarek, and Montgomery's Arch, the Group 2 Richmond Stakes winner at Goodwood for Peter Chapple-Hyam, are both unbeaten after two starts. Two others, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Oratorio and the Clive Brittain-trained Tony James, are coming off Group 2 tallies.

The $300,000 Prix de l'Opera centers on the two "winners" of the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, Grey Lilas and Shapira.

In fact, Grey Lilas was the winner of the official Nonette, a 1 1/2-mile Group 3 run at Deauville on Aug. 24. German Oaks winner Shapira had taken the Nonette run two days earlier, a race voided due to a starting-gate malfunction.

Grey Lilas, a hot Andre Fabre-trained candidate for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, has since beaten older colts in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at one mile, but shaking loose from Shapira, who will be making just her third official career start in the Group 1 Opera, will be no easy task.

Whortleberry, a Group 2 winner, and Yesterday, who is expected to improve off her fifth to Soviet Song in the Group 1 Matron Stakes following a 10-month absence, cannot be overlooked.

Fifteen will line up for the $240,000 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, but only one of them, Ratio, is trained in France, and he is owned by Englishmen and trained by Englishman John Hammond. A listed winner, Ratio lost all chance in the Group 2 Diadem Stakes at Ascot last Saturday when wiped out at the start, but the winner of this Group 1 dash is likely to be trained across the Channel.

The Tatling makes sense in the five-furlong Abbaye. A close third last year to Patavellian, he was second in both the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York and the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert over the Abbaye course and distance. He holds a slight edge over last year's Abbaye runner-up, The Trader, and over the intriguing Var, an ex-Bill Mott trainee now with Clive Brittain. Var was recently a good second in a five-furlong Group 3 contest at Newbury.

Defending champ Westerner has had the Group 1, $240,000 Prix du Cadran in his sights all year. Second in the Ascot Gold Cup over the same 2 1/2-mile distance, he prepped perfectly for trainer Elie Lellouche with a victory in the Group 3 Prix Gladiateur. Two-mile Goodwood Cup winner Darasim will give chase, but may find the extra half-mile a little too tough.