06/04/2001 12:00AM

France: Anabaa Blue the Derby champ


Anabaa Blue fought off the challenges of Chichicastenango and Grandera to win the 1 1/2-mile, $903,000 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) at Chantilly.

Victory provided his trainer Carlos Lerner and jockey Christophe Soumillon with the biggest wins of their careers and propelled him to the top of the 3-year-old ranks in France.

But he was perhaps a bit lucky to win, as third-place Grandera was checked at the quarter pole and again at the three-sixteenths pole before finding room on the rail for a late run.

Anabaa Blue led for three furlongs, then tracked the 3-2 favorite Maille Pistol until reclaiming the lead at the three-sixteenths pole. Maille Pistol faded to finish eighth, beaten by just four lengths. Anabaa Blue finished 2:27.90 on good ground at 8-1.

In the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds, the John Dunlop-trained Olden Times pulled out all the stops under Pat Eddery to defeat King of Tara by a head at 4-1 with Denon just a short head further back in third. The time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.10.