07/01/2010 11:00PM

Lope de Vega shortens up to mile for Prix Jean Prat


Dual classic winner Lope de Vega will be tested by Dick Turpin in the Group 1, $500,000 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on Sunday.

The one-mile race for 3-year-olds represents a big cut-back in distance from the 1 5/16-mile French Derby, but one Lope de Vega should be able to handle. Earlier this season, he captured the one-mile French 2000 Guineas.

In fact, Lope de Vega, trained by Andre Fabre, will be attempting to virtually duplicate the feat of his sire Shamardal, who also won the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before cutting back to a mile to take the St. James s Palace Stakes.

The versatile Lope de Vega, a grandson of the equally versatile Giant s Causeway, rallied from ninth to beat Dick Turpin by a half-length in the French Guineas, but employed close-up tracking tactics in his French Derby victory, cruising to the lead at the three-eighths pole for a handy three-length score over Planteur.

Maxime Guyon will handle the reins as he has in all six of Lope de Vega s previous starts.

Owner Dietrich von Boetticher of Gestut Ammerland is shipping in Altair Star from Germany to ensure a fast pace.

In Dick Turpin, Lope de Vega faces a speedy miler who has been unlucky not to win a Group 1 race. Trained in England by Richard Hannon, Dick Turpin started the season with a victory over Canford Cliffs in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Greenham Stakes but has since been runner-up in Newmarket s 2000 Guineas, the French Guineas, and the St. James s Palace Stakes, in which he was beaten a length by Canford Cliffs. A Group 2 winner going six furlongs at 2, Dick Turpin has a Group 1 victory in him somewhere, and if Lope de Vega can t quite handle the drop in distance, the Jean Prat could be it. Richard Hughes will ride.

Hearts of Fire will always be the sentimental favorite in races like this, since he is trained by the great ex-jockey Pat Eddery. The winner of the one-mile, Group 1 Gran Criterium at San Siro in Milan as a 2-year-old, Hearts of Fire was a sharp third in the St. James s Palace and picks up the services of Olivier Peslier, who rode him in his big Italian score.

Siyouni was only fourth in the St. James s Palace but finished ahead of Lope de Vega when second in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau. Frozen Power won the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas but would have to improve considerably to play a key role here; Sormiou won the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac over the course and distance on June 13 and has a chance of landing a place.

* Hunch players will be all over Miss Liberty in the Group 3, $100,000 Prix du Bois. A Pia Brandt-trained daughter of Statue of Liberty and Miss America, Miss Liberty is entered in this five-furlong, fourth of July fixture as a follow-up to her victory in the listed five-furlong Prix La Fleche. Undefeated colts Dream Catcher and Irish Field loom large, as does the maiden filly Magic Potion, who was second by a length in the La Fleche.