07/04/2003 12:00AM

German Derby wide open


Dai Jin may have a slight edge over 19 rivals in a highly competitive renewal of the Group 1 German Derby at Hamburg on Sunday.

A British-bred son of Peintre Celebre out of a mare by the outstanding broodmare sire Shirley Heights, Dai Jin won by only a neck over North Lodge in the Group 2 Oppenheim-Union-Rennen, a 1 3/8-mile race June 15, but he appears more likely to stay the derby's 1 1/2 miles. Leading German trainer Andreas Schutz has imported Olivier Peslier from France for the ride.

Ransom O'War and Wild Passion, both group race winners in June, are not without their chances, while Mosogno, Group 3-placed in France for Andre Fabre, must be respected with Johnny Murtagh, winner of last Sunday's Irish Derby aboard Alamshar, in the saddle.

If there is to be a surprise it could come from another Schutz trainee, the filly Next Gina. Third behind Sunday's American Oaks invader Meridiana in a listed race in April, she improved to take the 1 3/8-mile German Oaks on June 8 and will be ridden by Schutz's first-call rider Andrasch Starke.

* Jean Lesbordes, trainer of 1993 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea, the only filly to land France's greatest race in the last 20 years, has announced his retirement effective immediately, Paris-Turf has reported. Lesbordes cited health and economic reasons for his decision, made after 36 years as a trainer of both flat horses and jumpers.