08/11/2008 12:00AM

Marchand d'Or three-peats in Prix Maurice de Gheest


Trainer Freddy Head's hot streak got even hotter at Deauville on Sunday when Marchand d'Or landed the $375,000 Prix Maurice de Gheest, becoming the first horse in French racing history to win the same Group 1 race three times in succession.

A half-hour earlier, Avanti Polonia had added to Head's triumphant day by winning the 1 9/16-mile, Group 2 Prix de Pomone.

Fresh from a July 10 victory in the six-furlong Group 1 July Cup in Newmarket, the 8-5 Marchand d'Or defeated longshot African Rose by three-quarters of a length under Davy Bonilla, getting the straight 6 1/2 furlongs on soft ground in 1:18.40.

An ecstatic Head, now the winner of four Group 1 races within the past month, said that Marchand d'Or, a 5-year-old son of Marchand de Sable, might run for two or three more years, as he is a gelding. He said his next race would be a return to England for the six-furlong Haydock Park Sprint Cup, followed by a cut back to five furlongs for the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp on Arc de Triomphe Day.

US Ranger, a head second to Marchand d'Or in the July Cup, finished in a three-way dead heat for fifth with his Aidan O'Brien-trained entrymate, Astronomer Royal, and the Godolphin-owned Diabolical, with the trio crossing the line 4 1/2 lengths behind Marchand d'Or, who now rates as Europe's leading sprinter.

The 12-1 Avanti Polonia could be aimed at the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville versus males on Aug. 31 after her 1 1/2-length tally in the Prix de Pomone.

Also ridden by Davy Bonilla, Avanti Polonia, a 4-year-old Polish Precedent filly ran the 1 9/16 miles in 2:47.10.