05/07/2009 11:00PM

French Guineas notables: Filly sharp, colt vulnerable


Longchamp's Guineas Sunday offers not one but two highly competitive classic miles as Fantasia seeks to confirm her high promise in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches for fillies, while Naaqoos faces a stern challenge from a trio of recent winners in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains for colts.

The Luca Cumani-trained Fantasia looked like a potential world-beater cruising to a seven-length victory in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket April 15. Purchased by George Strawbridge after her second-place finish to Rainbow View in the Fillies Mile last September, she was routed to this $535,000 French 1000 Guineas to avoid a Newmarket Guineas clash with Rainbow View, who is also owned by Strawbridge.

In Tamazirte, Fantasia faces the winner of the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte, the Pouliches course-and-distance prep in which Tamazirte, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, defeated Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Proportional by three-quarters of a length into third, the pair split by Soneva, who also lines up on Sunday. Elusive Wave, the two-length winner of the listed seven-furlong Prix Imprudence on April 10, has a license to improve for Rouget.

Trainer Freddie Head has always had the highest regard for Naaqoos, who took French juvenile honors by winning the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 5. Naaqoos flunked his Guineas prep, however, when he ran second in the listed, seven-furlong Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte on April 10, and there are doubts about the ability of this Oasis Dream colt to stay the mile of the $535,000 Poule d'Essai de Poulains, or French 2000 Guineas.

The Djebel winner, the Rouget-trained Le Havre, will have his supporters, as will the first two home in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, Silver Frost and Westphalia, who previously had just failed to hold off Donativum in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Vocalised, winner of the seven-furlong, Group 3 Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh on Monday and already the winner of three races this spring, is a surprise entry from Jim Bolger as it was expected that he would wait for the Irish 2000 Guineas on May 23. A Vindication colt, he has as much chance of winning the Poulains as do at least four of his rivals.

* The list of 155 horses nominated to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 4 includes the name of Grand Couturier. Trained by Robert Ribaudo for Marc Keller, Grand Couturier is a three-time Grade 1 winner at 1 1/2 miles, the Arc distance, since arriving in America in July 2006. A 6-year-old son of Grand Lodge, he was previously trained by Jean-Claude Rouget in France, where he won the listed 1 1/2-mile Derby du Midi in Bordeaux and was just 2 1/4 lengths fourth in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp behind subsequent Arc winner Rail Link.