07/07/2009 11:00PM

Goldikova rebounds in Falmouth


Goldikova got back on track at Newmarket on Wednesday when she scored a professional half-length victory in the Group 1, $322,000 Falmouth Stakes. Returning from a dull seventh in the 1 1/8-mile, 55-yard Prix d'Ispahan, the Breeders' Cup Mile winner was much more comfortable over this straight mile. Settling nicely in second for Olivier Peslier, Goldikova, the 7-4 favorite, led at the quarter pole and held runner-up Heaven Sent safe, with Spacious another half-length back in third.

Those two, both owned by Cheveley Park Stud, had been second and first in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes last time, but fourth-place Rainbow View, last year's European 2-year-old filly champion, failed for the fourth time in four tries this season. The time for the mile on good ground was 1:36.21, or 0.71 of a second off the track record.

Trainer Freddie Head blamed the soft ground for Goldikova's defeat in the Ispahan. Owned by the Wertheimer brothers, she has the option of two Group 1 miles at Deauville, either the Prix Rothschild versus her own sex on Aug. 2, or the Prix Jacques le Marois against males two weeks later. Head was careful to note that a defense of her Breeders' Cup Mile title is uppermost on Goldikova's agenda.

Earlier, the 7-2 Misheer paid Jealous Again a big compliment when she defeated the 9-4 Habaayib by 3 1/4 lengths in the Group 2, $129,000 Cherry Hinton Stakes. Misheer had been five lengths second to the ex-Wesley Ward-trained Jealous Again in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, where Habaayib had won the Group 3 Albany Stakes. The time for the six furlongs was 1:10.85.

The closing day of Newmarket's three-day July meeting on Friday features a terrific renewal of the $644,000 July Cup, a six-furlong, Group 1 dash whose winner has been declared European sprint champion in 24 of the last 32 years. This year's favorite, the Australian hotshot Scenic Blast, is coming off a scintillating victory in the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Daniel Morton-trained son of Scenic will once again be ridden by Steve Arnold.

The Jeremy Noseda-trained Fleeting Spirit was just three-quarters of a length second in the King's Stand but has always shown a preference for five furlongs. Paco Boy, a Group 1 winner going seven furlongs last year, takes the unusual step of dropping down from a mile, the distance at which he won Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes. This scenario may see the Richard Hannon trainee run off his feet by quicker rivals.

Art Connoisseur beat South African sprint champ J J the Jet Plane into fourth in the six-furlong, Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Ascot where the Ward-trained Cannonball, now back home at Monmouth Park, was second. African Rose from France and Australia's bargain basement veteran Takeover Target help to make this July Cup an intriguing international event.