08/14/2009 12:00AM

Goldikova takes on males again


Goldikova returns to the races at Deauville on Sunday just two weeks after her brilliant victory in the Prix Rothschild. The occasion is the Group 1, $857,000 Prix Jacques le Marois on the same straight mile on which she scored a handy 1 1/2-length victory over French 1000 Guineas winner Elusive Wave and 10 other fillies and mares on Aug. 1.

Her competition will be tougher on Sunday but the Freddy Head-trained Goldikova has beaten colts before. Two of her five Group 1 or Grade 1 triumphs - in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and the Breeders' Cup Mile - came last year at the expense of older males. Goldikova could have taken the Rothschild by perhaps as much as four lengths but Olivier Peslier eased her up nearing the line. Peslier, who has ridden her in all 12 of her starts, will be back on board again.

Never on Sunday, who beat Goldikova into seventh on soft ground in the 1 1/8-mile, 55-yard Prix d'Ispahan in May, could pose the biggest threat. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, Never on Sunday was third, three-quarters of a length behind Vision d'Etat, in the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales's Stakes and is versatile enough to handle the cutback in distance. Equally dangerous is French 2000 Guineas winner Silver Frost, who is returning to his best distance after finishing sixth in the 1 5/16-mile French Derby.

Godolphin Racing is back in form after a long slump, but there are questions concerning its entry, Gladiatorus. Gladiatorus capped a perfect campaign at Nad Al Sheba last winter with an overpowering victory in the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free, but was a shocking sixth in the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes last time after barging five lengths clear within the first four furlongs. Frankie Dettori replaces Ahmed Ajtebi in the saddle and should have Gladiatorus setting a more sensible pace this time.

Aqlaam is an improving dark horse. Plagued by injuries after winning the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, the 4-year-old Aqlaam was third in the Queen Anne and most recently won Ascot's Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes.

Virtual took the one-mile Group 1 Lockinge Stakes in May but was well beaten in the Prince of Wales, while German 2000 Guineas winner Irian was a decent third in a substandard Group 1 Prix Jean Prat last time.

Goldikova will be aided by pacesetter Only Green, who served the same purpose in the Rothschild. With a stiff pace assured she should not be opposed as she continues on course to a defense of her BC Mile title.