06/15/2006 11:00PM

English filly out to provide owner with Italian double


Owner Gary Tanaka goes in search of an Italian classic double at San Siro in Milan on Sunday when his Rising Cross faces 15 rivals in the $550,000 Group 1 Oaks d'Italia.

Tanaka won the Derby Italiano with his French-trained Gentlewave in Rome on May 21 and now seeks the 1 3/8-mile Oaks with the British-trained Rising Cross. Trained by John Best in Kent, Rising Cross will have regular rider George Baker in the saddle. Tanaka bought Rising Cross, a Cape Cross filly, after her second-place finish to the runaway Alexandrova in the English Oaks on June 2.

Trainer Riccardo Menichetti has secured the riding services of French ace Christophe Soumillon aboard local favorite Dionisia. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Tejano Run, Dionisia is coming off a 3 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Premio Mario Incisa della Rochetta at San Siro on May 27.

Soumillon will be in Milan to ride the Aga Khan's filly Shamdala in the Gran Premio di Milano, a 1 1/2-mile Group 1 contest worth $440,000. A Grand Lodge 4-year-old, Shamdala took the 1 15/16-mile Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier last time at Longchamp for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, but showed good 12-furlong form when she ran fourth to Ouija Board in the Hong Kong Vase last December.

Groom Tesse, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Group 3 Premio Carlo d'Alessio in Rome on May 21, carries Italian hopes, while last year's Deutsches Derby winner, Nicaron, flies the German flag.