05/31/2007 11:00PM

French Derby looks wide open


The $2 million Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on Sunday is a race filled with potentially good 3-year-olds who have yet to show anything resembling classic form on the racetrack. Also known as the French Derby, the 1 5/16-mile Jockey-Club has drawn a crowded field of 20 colts, half of whom would not cause a raised eyebrow in the winners' circle.

Aidan O'Brien, who saddled four in Friday's English Oaks and had eight for Saturday's Epsom Derby, will have but two at Chantilly, but both are dangers. Alexander of Hales won the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, while Chinese Whisper has been second and third in a pair of French Group 3's this spring. British challenger Raincoat, a distant second to the Epsom Derby favorite, Authorized, in the Group 2 Dante Stakes, is expected to improve for trainer John Gosden.

But the feeling is that a locally trained horse will take the prize, and that could be No Dream. Trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias for the Wertheimer brothers, No Dream is an improving Anabaa colt coming off a sharp score in a 1 1/4-mile Chantilly allowance on April 24. That doesn't sound like much, but Darsi landed last year's French Derby off a similar allowance win. Moreover, No Dream will have Olivier Peslier on board.

Another recent allowance winner with a good chance is the undefeated Pascal Bary-trained Zambezi Sun. A son of Dansili, he won a 1 5/16-mile race at Longchamp on April 29 and will have Stephane Pasquier in the saddle.

Three group race winners have the credentials for victory, especially Lawman, who took the 1 1/8-mile Prix de Guiche by 2 1/2 lengths. The Prix Greffulhe winner, Quest for Honor, and the Prix La Force winner, Literato, should not be far away.

In the Group 2, 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Chantilly, all eyes will be on Champs Elysees, the full brother to Banks Hill and Intercontinental who last out won the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville.