05/11/2014 11:57AM

Karakontie narrowly prevails in French 2000 Guineas


The favored Karakontie added the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) to his Group 1 tally in the Jean-Luc Lagardere last fall, outlasting Prestige Vendome by a neck to win the French classic on Sunday at Longchamp.

Trained by Jonathan Pease for the Niarchos family, Karakontie now has amassed 4 wins and 2 seconds from 6 starts, and he clearly is among the leading 3-year-old milers in Europe. By the American sire Bernstein, Karakontie finished second making his 2014 bow in the Prix de Fontainebleau, and while that race’s winner, Ectot, missed the Guineas with an injury, Karakontie beat a solid enough group of 11 rivals over a course rated good to soft.

Jockey Stephane Pasquier rode Karakontie forwardly, reaching contention before the three-furlong marker, coming through on the inside, and taking the lead more than a furlong from the finish. Prestige Vendome, who had finished fourth in the Fontainebleau, attended the pace and stayed on well for second, 1 ½ lengths in front of Pornichet. Giovanni Boldini, second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall, could only manage seventh.

While Karakontie ground out his win running one mile in 1:41.06, Avenir Certain was a flashier and faster winner of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) earlier on the Longchamp card. Avenir Certain and jockey Gregory Benoist made a big move from mid-pack and finished strongly to beat fast-closing Veda by 1 1/4 lengths, getting the mile in 1:39.95.

Avenir Certain is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who won the 2009 Guineas with Elusive Wave, and is a daughter of Le Havre. She won her debut last year racing on turf at a provincial track, but her two subsequent starts – also wins – had come on synthetic surfaces. Her victory, however, was only a mild surprise, as tepid favorite Lesstalk In Paris struggled home 12th of 16.