09/30/2011 3:41PM

Goldikova preps for Breeders' Cup Mile in Prix de la Foret at Longchamp

Justin N. Lane
Goldikova will make her final start in Europe in Sunday's Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp.

Goldikova makes her 20th and final French start Sunday in the Prix de la Foret, attempting to win the 15th Group or Grade 1 race of her career in her Paris finale. Before being retired, Goldikova is expected to race once more following the Foret when she tries for a fourth straight Breeders’ Cup Mile win Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Longchamp, somewhat surprisingly, has not always showcased Goldikova at her best. She has won 4 of 8 starts there while going 13 for 17 at other venues in Europe and the United States, though three of her Longchamp losses came on the sort of wet, laboring course that doesn’t suit the fleet-footed Goldikova. Sunday’s conditions will seem more like California than Paris, with a high temperature near 80 and a course that should at least be good.

“We hope she can finish her racing in France on a high, especially as it is Arc Day and there will be so many people there,” said Pierre Yves-Bureau, racing manager for the brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, Goldikova’s owners and breeders who have favored the racing world by keeping Goldikova in training through age 6.

It remains an open question whether Goldikova has retained her best form at this ripe age. She has not run badly in any of her four 2011 starts, but she has lost twice, beaten by Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne at Ascot and by Immortal Verse in the Jacques Le Marois six weeks ago at Deauville. The going at Deauville might have been slightly against her, and Goldikova might prefer races around a bend to straight-course miles like those that produced her defeats this year.

Trainer Freddie Head used a one-mile race in early September, the Prix du Moulin, as the prep for Goldikova’s first BC Mile triumph in 2008, but the Foret, contested around one right-handed turn at about seven furlongs, has served as her Breeders’ Cup launching pad the last two seasons. In 2009, she finished a distant third in the race, causing a great stir, but after another scintillating BC Mile score a month later, it became obvious that a soft course had limited Goldikova’s performance. Last year, she won the Foret by a half-length over Paco Boy before beating Gio Ponti by 1 3/4 lengths in the BC Mile. Another Wertheimer horse, Flash Dance, will serve as Goldikova’s pacemaker Sunday.

Dream Ahead and Worthadd are thought to be the main opposition. A 3-year-old based in England with trainer David Simcock, Dream Ahead beat 15 foes in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup in his most recent start Sept. 3 at Haydock. He has yet to win beyond seven furlongs, however, and the European sprint division does not seem especially strong this year. Worthadd, a possible runner in the BC Mile who ships from Italy, finished a lackluster ninth in the Marois, but has a chance if he can get back to the form that produced a good second behind Canford Cliffs in the Lockinge Stakes in May.