05/29/2007 11:00PM

Mandesha wins '07 debut at Saint-Cloud

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Mandesha made a winning return to the races at Saint-Cloud on Wednesday with a victory in the Group 2, $174,000 Prix Corrida.

The European 3-year-old champion and three-time Group 1 winner, Mandesha had not run since winning the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on Oct. 1. Her long absence was telling, as she showed some rustiness in defeating recent Group 3 Prix Allez France winner Macleya by three-quarters of a length.

A 4-year-old daughter of Desert Style, Mandesha missed the break as the 2-5 favorite under Christophe Soumillon, who was content to keep her at the tail end of the five-runner pack. Second halfway through the 1 5/16-mile race, she accelerated off the slow pace to lead at the three-sixteenths pole and won ridden out, with just 2 1/2 lengths separating first from last. The winning time on very soft ground was 2:25.30.

Remarkably versatile - her Group 1 triumphs last year came at one mile, 1 1/4 miles, and 1 1/2 miles - Mandesha is owned by the Aga Khan's daughter Princess Zahra Khan, and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre. In winning the Corrida, she duplicated the feat of last year's winner, Pride, another Royer-Dupre trainee, who followed with a victory in the 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. That June 24 event that is likely to be Mandesha's next start.