05/15/2016 12:38PM

The Gurkha steps up from maiden ranks to take Group 1 French 2000 Guineas


The Gurkha is growing up rapidly for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

A month after beating maidens in Ireland, The Gurhka won his first stakes in Sunday’s Group 1 French 2000 Guineas at Deauville, France. The victory may lead to a start in the English Derby at Epsom Downs for The Gurkha, a colt by Galileo.

Ridden by Ryan Moore, The Gurkha (7-1) had his stakes debut in the 2000 Guineas. He raced near the front early in the race on a straightaway mile course and took the lead before the final furlong. The Gurkha pulled clear to win by 5 1/2 lengths over pacesetter First Selection, a 54-1 outsider.

Dicton finished third in the field of 13, with Zarak, the 2-1 favorite, finishing fifth.

The Gurkha caused a delay before the start because of a shoe repair. The colt has won 2 of 3 starts. He won a maiden race at Navan Racecourse in Ireland on April 17.

British bookmakers lowered the odds on The Gurkha for the English Derby, which is run at 1 1/2 miles on June 4. He was a 4-1 shot with most bookmakers and was as low as 3-1. The colt races for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier.

The 2000 Guineas had a purse of $621,280 and was the richest of three group stakes at Deauville on Sunday. Le Cressonniere extended her unbeaten streak to six races with a minor upset in the Group 1,
$508,320 French 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies.

Ridden by Christian DeMuro, Le Cressonniere (7-1) was close to the front. She took the lead with a quarter-mile remaining and finished a length in front of 8-1 Nathra. Qemah, the 2-1 favorite, finished third in the field of 14, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

Le Cressonniere, by Le Havre, has won four stakes for owner Gerard Augustin-Normand and trainer Jean Claude-Rouget. The 1000 Guineas was Le Cressonniere’s first start in a group stakes, following listed wins at Deauville and Chantilly in 2015, and at Saint-Cloud earlier this year.

Le Cressonniere is a candidate for the Group 1 French Oaks at Chantilly on June 19.

Earlier on the program, the Rouget-trained Mekhtaal won his stakes debut in the $146,840 Prix Hocquart, a Group 2 at 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old colts and fillies.

Ridden by Gregory Benoist, Mekhtaal (2-1) led throughout the Prix Hocquart, finishing six lengths in front of 11-1 Thewayyouwish. Mekhtaal, by Sea the Stars, is owned by Al Shaqab Racing and has won 2 of 3 starts. Mekhtaal is a candidate for the French Derby at Chantilly on June 5.

Japan: Straight Girl repeats in Victoria Mile

Straight Girl rebounded from a ninth-place finish in her first start of 2016, to win Sunday’s $1.84 million Victoria Mile for fillies and mares on turf at Tokyo Racecourse for the second consecutive year.

Straight Girl (16-1) was timed in 1:31.5, setting a stakes record for the Grade 1 Victoria Mile. Ridden by Keita Tosaki for trainer Hideaki Fujiwara, Straight Girl closed from off the pace to finish 2 1/2 lengths in front of 2-1 favorite Mikki Queen, the winner of the Grade 1 Japanese Oaks.

Shonan Pandora, the winner of the Japan Cup last November, finished third in the field of 18.

Straight Girl, by Fuji Kiseki, has won 11 of 31 starts for Hirosaki Toshihiro HD Co. The Victoria Mile was her third career win in a Grade 1, including the 2015 Sprinters’ Stakes.

France: Camprock favored in Prix Saint-Alary

The unbeaten Camprock will be favored to win her fourth race in Monday’s $282,775 Prix Saint-Alary for 3-year-old fillies at Deauville, France.

Camprock is part of a field of nine in the Group 1 race at 1 1/4 miles on turf, a prep for the French Oaks at Chantilly on June 19. Trained by Pia Brandt, Camprock, by Myboycharlie, began her career in January on the Polytrack surface at Chantilly. She won her group stakes debut in the Group 3 Prix Penelope at Saint-Cloud on April 18.

Camprock, who is owned by Ecurie Du Grand Chene, will be ridden for the first time by Mickael Barzalona. Her previous rider, Maxime Guyon, is booked to ride Left Hand, a Dubawi filly trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias.

The biggest threat to Camprock may be Hawksmoor, an English import who has not started since finishing third in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, England, last October.