10/04/2008 11:00PM

Marchand d'Or wins 'rerun' Abbaye


Europe's championship sprint race, the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, turned into a fiasco on Sunday when the starting gate holding Fleeting Spirit failed to open, causing the 5-furlong event to be declared void. Most of the horses, however, completed the race, among them the undefeated Hungarian invader Overdose, who sped home a 5-length "winner", only to find that his effort had been for naught.

France-Galop stewards announced that the Abbaye would be rerun 25 minutes after the last race on the card, but Overdose's connections declined the offer. His Slovak owner Zoltan Mikoczy said that he would officially protest the result, and that he was sending Overdose back to Budapest where trainer Stefan Ribarszki will prepare him for the Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 14.

In the rerun of the $345,000 Group 1 Abbaye, Marchand d'Or solidified his position as Europe's best sprinter. The Freddie Head-trained 5-year-old gelding prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths over Moorhouse Lad with recent Nunthorpe Stakes winner Borderlescott third, a length further back. Following up on Group 1 wins in the July Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest, Marchand d'Or sped the straight 5 furlongs in 54.40 on good to soft ground, but that was four-tenths of a second slower than the unofficial time recorded by Overdose in the void Abbaye.

The "affaire de l'Abbaye" was a bitter blow to the budding Eastern European racing industry which, for a brief instant, thought they were sitting on top of the world. Shortly after the start, the starter signaled that there had been a false start, but only one of the two flagmen who were supposed to wave the horses to a halt, followed through on his command. Moreover, a flashing light that is supposed to maked the false start even clearer to the jockeys, did not go off.

Most of the field completed the the voided race but only Overdose ran hard from start to finish, his German-based rider Andreas Suborics apparently unfamiliar with the French system of flaging down the runners after a false start.

"I did not see the flag on the outside," said Frankie Dettori, the rider of Dandy Man, "nor any alarm lights to indicate a false start."

But Head, the trainer of Abbaye favorite Marchand d'Or, who was eased before halfway by Davy Bonilla in the void contest, was adamant about the justice of the stewards' decision.

"There is a rule in French racing and it should be applied," he said. "The flag was up and it's too bad for the others who didn't see it."

Lady Marian wins Opera, may go to F & M Turf

Lady Marian is being seriously considered for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf after she scored a 12-1 upset over the 1.90-1 choice Lush Lashes in the $345,000 Group 1 Prix de l'Opera. Lush Lashes led approaching the furlong pole but Dominique Boeuf brought Lady Marian with a late rush for a 1 1/2-length victory, getting the 10 furlongs in 2:03.80. Second in the German Oaks, the Werner Baltromei-trained winner had most recently won the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, coincidentally the race that Urban Sea had won prior to becoming the last filly until Zarkava to win the Arc in 1993. Trainer Jim Bolger said that Lush Lashes suffered a leg wound during the race but would be pointed to the Hong Kong Cup if it proved to be merely superficial. The Aga Khan's filly Katiyra finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Lush Lashes. She will be put away for the winter but will return next year under the care of John Oxx.

Naaqoos take Lagardere

Freddie Head had been telling people all summer that Naaqoos was a top class juvenile colt, but that didn't seem to be the case when the son of Oasis Dream was only fifth behind Bushranger in Deauville's Group 1 Prix Morny. Since a handy allowance winner, Naaqoos showed what he was really made of with a game neck victory over Milanais in the $483,000 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Leading throughout under Davy Bonilla, the 4-1 Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Naaqoos set a new stakes record of 1:18.40 for the 7 furlongs and was mentioned by Head a possible for next year's 2000 Guineas. Europe's leading 2-year-old colt, Mastercraftsman, finished a one-paced fourth at 2-5, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

Upset in Boussac

Criquette Head-Maarek, back at full strength after a prolonged illness, was smiling after she had overseen the 28-1 Proportional to an overhwelming 3-length win over Group 3 winner Elusive Wave in the $415,000 Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies. Merely a maiden winner in two previous starts, the Khalid Abdullah-owned daughter of Beat Hollow gave nothing else a chance in the one-mile Group 1, traveling the distance under Stephane Pasquier in 1:36.10.