10/07/2010 2:45PM

French import Paris Vegas gets another chance on dirt in Oklahoma Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
After winning his dirt debut with a 98 Beyer Figure, Paris Vegas steps up in class for Sunday's Oklahoma Derby.

Trainer Fabrice Chappet was at Remington Park on Thursday morning, far from his yard in Chantilly, France. He is in town to run Paris Vegas in Sunday’s $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, the first of two international shippers Chappet has targeting upcoming stakes in the United States. The other is Blue Panis, whom he said arrived at Hollywood Park from Paris on Wednesday night to compete in next weekend’s Grade 2, $150,000 Oak Tree Derby.

“We have a big American week,” said Chappet.

Paris Vegas is one of 10 horses making up the field for the Oklahoma Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that anchors a program of five stakes worth a cumulative $825,000. The card is the most significant of the Remington meet, and it will be held on the lone Sunday program of the season. Pleasant Prince, the winner of the Grade 3 Ohio Derby, was made Remington’s 7-2 morning-line favorite for the Oklahoma Derby after entries were drawn Thursday.

Paris Vegas has been in the U.S. since the summer, running sixth in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame on turf at Saratoga on Aug. 13, then winning a second-level allowance in his dirt debut at Monmouth Park in his most recent start Sept. 12. He earned a Beyer Figure of 98 for his clear win in the one-mile race, and Joe Bravo, who was aboard, has the call again in the Oklahoma Derby.

“He’d won on the all-weather [in France], and he’s by Maria’s Mon, so we always sort of wanted to try him on dirt,” Chappet said. “You don’t get the option to run him on dirt in Europe. He’s born for that, and apparently, he likes it from what we saw last time.”

Earlier this year, Paris Vegas won his maiden and a listed stakes on the all-weather surface at Cagnes-sur-Mer in France. Both wins were at 1 1/4 miles. He did not handle the soft ground in two subsequent starts on turf, then ran second in the Group 1 Austrian Derby in June. Monday, Paris Vegas flew into Oklahoma City from New York.

“It’s a big trip, but he’s been all over the world,” said Chappet.

Paris Vegas has settled in well, Chappet said, and has been residing in trainer Cash Asmussen’s barn at Remington.

“I know Cash from a long time ago,” Chappet said of Asmussen, who was a champion jockey in France.

Chappet said Joe Talamo would ride Blue Panis in the Oak Tree Derby, which will be run Oct. 16. His stateside shippers are part of a 30-horse stable that Chappet, a head trainer for about 12 years, has based in Chantilly.

The Oklahoma Derby field from the rail out with riders is Professor Pollard, Quincy Hamilton; Monsignor, David Cohen; Paris Vegas, Bravo; Holiday Buzz, Luis Quinonez; Distorted Economy, Joe Talamo; Timely Pursuit, Terry Thompson; Raven Hawk, Aaron Gryder; Pleasant Prince, Joel Rosario; Stachys, Bobby Walker Jr.; and No Hesitation, Cliff Berry.

No Such Word heads the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks that drew nine others, including Southern California shipper American Story. No Such Word will break from post 2, under Terry Thompson.

The other supporting stakes are the $150,000 Remington Green, the $50,000 Flashy Lady and the $50,000 E.L. Gaylord Memorial.

The forecast for Sunday is sunny skies and a high of 87 degrees, according to weather.com. First post is 1:30 p.m. Central.