10/03/2010 2:05PM

Goldikova holds off Paco Boy in Prix de la Foret

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Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Goldikova wins the Group 1 Prix de la Foret on Sunday at Longchamp.

PARIS – Goldikova served notice that she will be in top form for her attempt at an unprecedented third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile title when she won the $333,000 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Sunday, defeating Paco Boy by a rather comfortable half-length in one of six Group 1 races on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe undercard.

Sent to a somewhat reluctant lead from her rail draw by Olivier Peslier, the 1.30-1 Goldikova was allowed to set a steady pace before being given something of a breather at the halfway point of this seven-furlong affair. It was Regal Parade who took over the pacesetting duties until Peslier put Goldikova back in front just inside the quarter pole, but she was not asked for a full effort until Paco Boy threw down the gauntlet.Goldikova served notice that she will be in top form for her unprecedented attempt at a third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile title when she won the $333,000 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Sunday, defeating Paco Boy by a rather comfortable half-length in one of six Group 1 races on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe undercard.

At that point, Goldikova asserted herself, holding not only Paco Boy safe, but that one’s Richard Hannon-trained stablemate Dick Turpin as well. Dick Turpin crossed the line another half-length back in third as Regal Parade faded to fourth. The winning time of 1:22.10 was a good one, considering the very soft ground that had been drying out a bit all afternoon under sunny and breezy skies.

“She is simply extraordinary, always up to the challenge,” her trainer Freddy Head said. “Given the condition of the track, we came very close to pulling from her from the race. I told Olivier to keep her close to the pace. He let her do her thing before coolly reining her in going into the stretch.”

Now the winner of 11 Group or Grade 1 races, the most ever by a European horse since the group race system was initiated in 1971, Goldikova heads for Churchill Downs for her Nov. 6 date with destiny. Head and her owners, the Wertheimer brothers, will take heart from this Prix de la Foret as she had only finished third in the race last year before her second Mile triumph. Moreover, winning at a distance a furlong short of her best and on soft ground bodes extremely well for a return to a mile, hopefully on firm ground in Kentucky.

Opera: Lily of the Valley bests stablemate

In the 1 1/4-mile, $400,000 Prix de l’Opera, a frequent pointer to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the 7-1 Lily of the Valley won for the sixth time in a row as she collared the 1.30-1 favorite Stacelita in the shadow of the wire for a three-quarter-length victory, traveling the 10 furlongs in 2:09.80. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and ridden by Ioritz Mendizabal, the 3-year-old daughter of Galileo was beating her Rouget-trained stablemate, the Martin Schwatrz-owned Stacelita, after having won a pair of Group 3 races, the Prix de la Nonette and the Prix Chloe.

Stacelita may have suffered from an overconficent ride by Christophe Soumillon, who put her on the lead over three furlongs out. She met Lily of the Valley’s challenge, but the persistence of the winner and her Basque rider ultimately paid off.

Unfortunately, neither Lily of the Valley nor Stacelita will be at Churchill Downs for the Filly and Mare Turf. Lily of the Valley will remain in training as a 4-year-old and will be stretched out to 12 furlongs, while Stacelita, who had been under consideration for either the E.P. Taylor or the Filly and Mare Turf, is a possible for the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Dec. 12.

Marcel Boussac: Misty For Me impresses

As the trainer for his exacting taskmasters at Coolmore, Aidan O’Brien must be under more pressure to produce big-race results than any other trainer in the world. It was therefore that he heaved a sigh of relief after Misty For Me outgamed Helleborine in the one-mile, $400,000 Prix Marcel Boussac for juvenile fillies.

The recent winner of the seven-furlong, Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, the 3.60-1 daughter of Galileo was untried on soft ground prior to Sunday but handled the going with aplomb. Rated in sixth by Johnny Murtagh, she moved into the lead approaching the furlong marker just as the undefeated Group 3 winner Helleborine ranged up alongside. Misty For Me found something extra and ran out a convincing one-length winner, prompting O'Brien to announce that she was “a Guineas/Oaks filly,” that is to say, one who is capable of competing in both the 1000 Guineas and the English Oaks. She covered the mile in 1:42.50.

Rainbow Springs, the filly who had finished 13 lengths second behind Frankel in a Doncaster allowance race last month, was third, another three lengths behind, with Goldikova’s half-sister Galikova fifth after having made up substantial ground in the latter stages.

* Wootton Bassett extended his perfect record to 5 for 5 as he led throughout in the seven-furlong $468,000 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over the dead-heaters Maiguri and The Tin Horse. It was another length back to the fourth-place Moonlight Cloud, the only filly in the race and one who is owned by George Strawbridge.

In giving his England-based trainer Richard Fahey his first Group 1 victory, the 2-year-old son of Ifraaj was adding to wins in a pair of valuable sales races at Doncaster and York, that is, races restricted to horses sold at particular yearling sales. In covering the one-turn, seven furlongs in 1:23.00, Wootton Bassett was adding a feather in the cap on his rider, Paul Hanagan, the leading jockey in Britain this year.

* Gilt Edge Girl won a largely nondescript renewal of the five-furlong, $333,000 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, the French champion sprint race that included only one of this year’s European Group 1 sprint winners. Breaking from the inside rail under Luke Morris, the 4-year-old daughter of Monsieur Bond led virtually throughout, drawing clear late and holding off Group 2 Diadem Stakes winner Lady of the Desert for a one-length victory. Sent off at 10-1, Gilt Edge Girl went the straight five furlongs in 57 seconds, a rather quick time for a course officially rated as very soft.

* In a year when European stayers hardly distinguished themselves, Gentoo may have earned himself the continental stamina championship with his comprehensive victory in the $335,000, 2 1/2-mile, Prix du Cadran. The winner of the Cadran prep, Longchamp’s Group 3 Prix Gladiateur going 1 15/16 miles, the Alain Lyon-trained son of Loup Solitaire was patiently ridden by Gerald Mosse back in seventh place as Blek, the 6-5 favorite, set a healthy pace. Angled wide entering the 2 1/2-furlong stretch, the 4.30-1 Gentoo outpaced his rivals to lead at the three-sixteenths pole, emerging as a handy 2 1/2-length winner over Winter Dream. Blek, meanwhile, backed up to finish last of eight as Gentoo covered the distance in 4:40.80. The victory was all the more exciting as this was not only Lyon’s first Group 1 winner, but his first Group 1 runner as well.