02/24/2011 3:20PM

Mont Pelato's trail to Kentucky Derby starts in France


Mont Pelato’s bold American ambitions start on Saturday at the unlikely venue of Cagnes-sur-Mer, a racecourse that lies just a few miles from the ritzy seafront resort of Nice on the French Riviera where he will use the listed, $75,000 Prix Policeman at 1 1/4 miles as a trial for Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes. An undefeated Kentucky-bred son of Forest Danger, Mont Pelato already owns two wins going 1 3/16 miles on the Deauville Fibresand track, so the extra sixteenth on the Cagnes Fibersand strip should be right up his alley.

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Trainer Christophe Ferland has said that Mont Pelato must win the Policeman in order to qualify for a spot in the Blue Grass and then a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby, but he is confident.

“He’s very well,” the trainer said Thursday, “He had a blowout this morning, and it was a good one. He has drawn well in post 4. In his first race he got cover in third place and won easily. Next time he didn’t get any cover and had a harder time of it. Maybe we’ll find out on Saturday if he can come from behind.”

Thomas Huet, who rode Mont Pelato to his maiden victory on Dec. 9, will be at the controls.

Named for the winner of the 1980 French Derby who had wintered that season at Cagnes-sur-Mer, the Prix Policeman will be Mont Pelato’s toughest test to date. The 13-runner field includes Mariage Tardif, a Slickly colt who won an allowance over the Policeman course and distance on Feb. 5 and who was second in the listed Prix Delahante on the Marseille-Borely turf in November. Prince Caracallo has won on the Deauville Fibresand and the Fontainebleau turf, and the filly Nonsuch Way broke her maiden against colts in a Maisons-Laffitte allowance in October, has won on the Deauville Fibresand, and was a neck second in Mariage Tardif’s Cagnes victory.