06/06/2010 12:00AM

Lope de Vega triumphs in French Derby


Lope de Vega proved a carbon copy of his sire, Shamardal, at Chantilly on Sunday as he followed up on his victory in the French 2000 Guineas with an impressive triumph in the $1.8 million Prix du Jockey-Club, or French Derby.

Breaking wide from post 20 in the overflow field of 23, he was busted out of the gate by Maxime Guyon to track the fast early pace of longshot rabbit Vivre Libre, led a half-mile form home, went quickly clear, and was eased down near the line to defeat the 4.80-1 second choice, Prix de Noailles winner Planteur, by three lengths.

Virtually ignored at the windows at 10.20-1, despite his victory in the one-mile French Guineas and perhaps because of doubts about his ability to stay 1 5/16 miles, Lope de Vega reigned supreme Sunday. Supplementary entry Pain Perdu was third, three-quarters of a length further back under Frankie Dettori, the man who had ridden Shamardal to his French Guineas-French Derby double in 2005. Nothing else could mount a challenge as three group race winners toiled in his wake. Prix de Guiche winner Behkabad was fourth, Prix Greffulhe winner Ice Blue was seventh, and Cape Blanco, who had beaten Saturday's seen-length Epsom Derby winner Workforce in the Dante Stakes, was 10th as the 4-1 favorite. The time for the 1 5/16 miles on soft ground was a very quick 2:07.10.

Bred in Ireland by his German owners at Gestut Ammerland, Lope de Vega was giving trainer Andre Fabre just his second Prix du Jockey-Club victory, his first having come with subsequent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Peintre Celebre in 1997. Lope de Vega, however, does not look like Arc material, according to Fabre, at least not at this stage. Fabre had expressed doubts about Lope's stamina before the Jockey-Club and suggested that a cut back to a mile for the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15 might be his next stop. If that should be the case, Lope de Vega would be following further in the similar footsteps of his sire as Shamardal followed his French Derby victory with a win just nine days later in the one-mile St. James's Palace Stakes. Fabre also indicated that it was quite likely that Lope de Vega would remain in training as a 4-year-old, when the possibility of running him at longer distances and in foreign countries would be raised.

* Earlier on the Jockey-Club card, Joanna scored a two-length victory in the Group 2, $155,000 Prix de Sandringham. Promoted to third in the French 1000 Guineas after the disqualification of Liliside, the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained daughter of High Chaparral beat that filly into fifth-place as German 1000 Guineas winner Kali filled the runner-up spot. Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned winner covered the mile in 1:38.70 and is being aimed at the one-mile, Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 7.

* In the Group 2, $155,000 Prix du Gros-Chene at five furlongs, the 6.80-1 Planet Five prevailed by a short neck from Picadilly Filly, with even-money choice Marchand d'Or third, another half-length behind. Trained by Pascal Bary for the Niarchos Family, Planet Five is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Storm Cat and Breeders' Cup Mile winner Six Perfections.

* Juddmonte Farms racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said Sunday that Epsom Derby winner Workforce would run next in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 27 as long as he recovers from his Epsom exertions in time. The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24 and a first meeting with older horses also is in the works for the King's Best colt.