08/15/2010 11:21AM

Makfi takes advantage of soft ground to upset Goldikova

Makfi wins the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville.

Makfi handed Goldikova a shocking defeat at Deauville on Sunday as he beat the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner by 2 1/2 lengths in the Group 1, $769,000 Prix Jacques Le Marois.

Goldikova led approaching the three-sixteenths pole in the straight mile but couldn’t resist the late charge of Makfi. Paco Boy led briefly at the eighth-pole, but Goldikova got back up for second by a neck. The winning time was 1:39.40, compared to the 1:33.50 recorded by Goldikova when winning last year’s renewal by sixlengths on good ground.

In truth, the state of the ground, labeled very soft, had much to do with the result as Makfi had won his first two starts, a Fontainebleau maiden in November and the Group 3 Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte in April, on ground that also was very soft. Goldikova, meanwhile, had lost her only previous start on soft ground when seventh in last year’s Prix d’Ispahan.

However, there was no denying that the Mikel Delzangles-trained Makfi was the best horse on the day. The winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on good-to-firm ground at 33-1, the son of Dubawi had disappointed when only seventh behind Canford Cliffs in the St. James’s Palace Stakes on good ground at Royal Ascot last time. Given a picture-perfect ride by Christophe Soumillon as the 4.40-1 third choice, Makfi is now 4 for 5 lifetime. He will go next in either the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on Sept. 4 or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 25. He is under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Mile as well, and he earned an automatic berth in the race as part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program.

Goldikova, who went off as the 6-5 favorite with her two pacesetting stablemates, Only Green and Saying, has always had the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret on Oct. 3 set as her final trial for a third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile title. Clearly, however, she will want to avoid soft ground in the future as that sort of going takes the sting out of her vaunted acceleration.

Magnanimous in defeat, trainer Freddy Head offered no excuses for her defeat, not even the ground.

Trainer Richard Hannon did cite the ground as the reason for the loss of the 2.80-1 Paco Boy. While he had finished a neck second to Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes on good-to-firm ground, he appeared to not quite stay the mile on this occasion. Hannon left the door wide open for Paco Boy’s next appearance, saying it might be the Queen Elizabeth II or the Prix de la Foret, either of which could be followed by the Breeders’ Cup Mile.