05/20/2011 3:18PM

Goldikova starts year in familiar spot


American racing’s favorite foreigner, Goldikova, will make her 2011 debut Sunday at Lonchamp in Paris, where she faces eight foes in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan.

If the Ispahan has become the traditional opening of Goldikova’s season, the Breeders’ Cup Mile, which she has won the last three years – twice at Santa Anita and last fall at Churchill Downs – has become her annual endpoint. If all goes according to plan, Goldikova will make her way back to Churchill this fall to attempt a fourth straight BC Mile score. Goldikova made six starts during her 2010 campaign, and trainer Freddie Head plans a similar schedule this year.

Racing over soft ground in the 2009 Ispahan, Goldikova finished a shocking seventh, but she was best by a half-length in the 2010 edition of the race, beating Byword, whom she meets again Sunday. Course conditions should suit the mighty little mare Sunday: The Longchamp turf has been dry enough that water is being drawn from the nearby Seine River to soften the course, and the faster and firmer, the better for Goldikova.

Head, who also sends out Rajsaman in the Ispahan, was speaking glowingly of Goldikova’s condition as far back as late March, when he was in Dubai for the World Cup card. Head repeatedly has said Goldikova, 6, looks better than ever in her day-to-day activity. By Anabaa and bred and owned by the Wertheimer Brothers, Goldikova has compiled a remarkable career record, with 15 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds from 21 starts, most against some of the top middle-distance turf horses in the world. She has proven not to need a prep race to show top form early in the year and should be a formidable favorite going just more than 1 1/8 miles Sunday.

As for the others, Rajsamam tallied a one-length win over Juddmonte Farms’ Byword in the Group 2 Prix du Muguet on May 1 at Saint Cloud. English invader Dick Turpin also may have a say. A sharp winner of the Sandown Mile in his seasonal debut, Dick Turpin had a troubled trip when fourth behind top-class Canford Cliffs in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes last weekend at Newbury.

◗ Earlier on the card, Glorious Sight may be favored in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/4 miles, though a favorable trip aided her second-place finish last out in the French 1000 Guineas. In that race, Glorious Sight set a slow pace before being overtaken by Golden Lilac over a one-mile trip, though she did win easily going nine furlongs earlier this spring at Longchamp.