09/09/2011 4:39PM

Longchamp: Goldikova's little sister on the move up


Goldikova was withdrawn last weekend from consideration for the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on Sunday, but Goldikova’s 3-year-old half-sister, Galikova, will see Group 1 action on the card in Paris as one of six horses in the Prix Vermeille.

Besides the pair of Group 1’s, Sunday’s Longchamp program also includes the Prix Foy and Prix Niel, both historically important prep races for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Galikova, bred and owned by the Wertheimer brothers and trained by Freddie Head, just like Goldikova, has a long way to go to land in the same league as her sister, but Galikova has been a progressive filly throughout 2011. Stepped up in class race by race, Galikova finished second by one length to the good filly Golden Lilac in the June 12 Prix de Diane, her only previous Group 1 start, before easily winning the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano on Aug. 12 at Deauville. She has found a good spot to break through in the Grade 1 ranks Sunday, with Aidan O’Brien-trained Wonder of Wonders the chief challenger among just five foes.

The Prix du Moulin lost much of its luster when Immortal Verse, Goldikova’s conqueror in the Jacque le Marois, was taken out of the race with a minor injury a few days after Goldikova’s defection. The absence of top-class talent could leave the one-mile race to a horse like the Head-trained Rajsaman, who has chased Frankel and Goldikova in his last two starts. England-based Excelebration also has a chance for trainer Marco Botti.

The Prix Foy, for older horses at 1 1/2 miles, will have just four runners, but one of them is Sarafina, who is being held as the early Arc favorite in some quarters. Sarafina, third in the 2010 Arc, finished second in her 2011 debut but has won her two start since, and comes off a good win in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud over the hard-knocking Cirrus des Aigles. The 4-year-old filly’s opponents include two Japanese runners, Hiruno d’Amor and Nakayama Festa. Nakayama Festa hasn’t raced since a 14th-place finish in the Japan Cup last November, but finished second in front of Sarafina in the 2010 Arc. Capable St. Nicholas Abbey rounds out the Foy quartet.

The 1 1/2-mile Prix Niel, restricted to 3-year-olds, is scheduled to go with a field of six and is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Reliable Man was an impressive winner of the French Derby on June 5, but on July 14 proved no match for Meandre, another Niel runner, in the Grand Prix de Paris. Neither horse has run since, and Meandre, trained by Andre Fabre, also ranks among the early favorites for the Arc.