06/16/2017 8:36AM

English invaders Shutter Speed and Rhododendron favored in French Oaks


Shutter Speed and Rhododendron, who have won or placed in major stakes in England in the last month, may prove impossible for domestic runners to beat in Sunday’s Group 1 French Oaks at Chantilly Racecourse, north of Paris.

Shutter Speed and Rhododendron are expected to dominate the betting in the $1.12 million French Oaks, which is run at 1 5/16 miles on turf and is formally known as the Prix de Diane.

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Shutter Speed, trained by John Gosden for Juddmonte Farms, won her stakes debut in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes at 1 5/16 miles on turf at York Racecourse on May 17, a key prep for Oaks races in England and France. Unbeaten in three starts, Shutter Speed took the lead with a quarter-mile remaining and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths as a heavy favorite.

Shutter Speed beat maidens last October and won her 2017 debut in a conditions race at Newbury in April.

Rhododendron, trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, was second to stablemate Winter in the Group 1 English 1000 Guineas at a mile at Newmarket on May 7 as the 5-4 favorite. In the Group 1 English Oaks at 1 1/2 miles at Epsom Racecourse on June 2, Rhododendron was second by five lengths as the 8-11 favorite behind the Gosden-trained Enable.

Ryan Moore rides Rhododendron, who could give the jockey and O’Brien their first win in the French Oaks. O’Brien, who swept the English and Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas last month and won the English Derby earlier this month, has not extensively targeted the French Oaks in recent years. In the last five runnings, O’Brien has started four horses, with a fifth-place finish by Coolmore in 2016 his best result in that span.

Gosden won the 2015 French Oaks with Star of Seville.

Trainer Jean Claude-Rouget has won three of the last five editions of the French Oaks. On Sunday, he starts the longshot Onthemoonagain, the winner of the Prix Caravelle at 1 5/16 miles on turf at Toulouse, France, on April 29 in her 2017 debut.

The unbeaten Terrakova will start in her first Group 1, having won the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre at 1 5/16 miles at Saint-Cloud Racecourse in Paris on May 23 in her first start of the year and the second race of her career. Terrakova is out of Goldikova, the three-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile and two-time champion turf female.