09/04/2009 12:00AM

Famous Name back to top level


Famous Name returns to the Group 1 wars after three straight victories in lesser company when he travels to France on Sunday for the $570,000 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, from which Aidan O'Brien has withdrawn Mastercraftsman for an apparent go at Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes.

A head second to Vision d'Etat in last year's 1 5/16-mile French Derby, the Dermot Weld-trained Famous Name was a distant second to Casual Conquest in his last Group 1 outing, the 1 5/16-mile Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 24. A Dansili 4-year-old, Famous Name then reeled off victories in the listed one-mile Celebration Stakes, the 1 1/8-mile, Group 3 International Stakes, and the one-mile, Group 3 Desmond Stakes, all at the Curragh. With Pat Smullen aboard, he can win what looks like a subpar renewal of a race that was won last year by subsequent Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova.

Always highly regarded by his owner Hamdan al-Maktoum, Aqlaam followed his win in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot with a six-length second to Goldikova in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 16. There is little to choose between Famous Name and the William Haggas-trained Aqlaam, who will be ridden by Richard Hills.

Gladiatorus looked like a potential world beater when he crushed the Dubai Duty Free by a handy 3 1/4 lengths on March 28, but Godolphin's Kentucky-bred son of Silic has been a severe disappointment since then, finishing far behind in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and in Goldikova's Jacques le Marois.

French hopes lie mainly with Elusive Wave, the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained winner of the French 1000 Guineas over the Moulin course and distance. The daughter of Elusive City was just 1 1/2 lengths second to Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville on Aug. 2 and could cause the favorites problems with a repeat of that effort. Christophe Lemaire rides.

Rouget also will saddle Oiseau de Feu, a Stravinsky 3-year-old who was a head second to the now Dick Mandella-trained Lord Shanakill in the one-mile, Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on July 5. The veteran sprinter Balthazaar's Gift tries a mile for the first time in his 43rd career start following a three-length victory in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.

In the Group 3, $114,000 Prix La Rochette, a one-mile affair for 2-year-olds, Godolphin will send out a quartet of British raiders in Barbegal, Buzzword, Colonial, and Emirates Dream in an effort to beat the Aga Khan's Siyouni, who lost for the first time in four starts when beaten into second by the filly Special Duty in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin.