08/04/2013 1:10PM

Moonlight Cloud sets course record in Prix Maurice de Gheest


Moonlight Cloud won Sunday’s Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest in course-record time for the third consecutive year at Deauville Racecourse in France, a victory expected to lead to a quick turnaround for the 5-year-old mare.

Trainer Freddie Head said Moonlight Cloud is likely to start in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next Sunday.

The $464,000 Prix Maurice de Gheest was run over a straightaway 6 1/2 furlongs, while the $795,000 Prix Jacques le Marois is run over a mile.

Moonlight Cloud led a trio of Group 1 winners across the line in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Ridden by Thierry Jarnet, Moonlight Cloud, the 6-5 favorite, stalked pacesetter Lethal Force while racing wide on the straightaway course. With two furlongs remaining, Jarnet urged Moonlight Cloud closer to the front, and they took the lead in the final furlong.

Moonlight Cloud finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Lethal Force in 1:14.33. Lethal Force won two Group 1 races earlier this summer – the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket.

Lethal Force finished three-quarters of a length in front of Gordon Lord Byron, the winner of the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last October.

Moonlight Cloud, by Invincible Spirit, is owned by breeder George Strawbridge and has won 10 of 17 starts. Last year, she won the Prix Maurice de Gheest and the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. She was eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last November.

Penelopa wins Henkel Preis de Diana

Penelopa, a Giant’s Causeway filly out of a mare who was stakes-placed in Virginia a decade ago, won Sunday’s $531,000 Henkel Preis de Diana, the German Oaks, at Dusseldorf in a 15-1 upset.

Ridden by Eduardo Pedroza, Penelopa finished three-quarters of a length in front of 6-4 favorite Secret Gesture, the runner-up in the Group 1 English Oaks at Epsom on May 31.

The Group 1 German Oaks, run over 1 3/8 miles, was the first stakes win for Penelopa. The filly overcame trouble twice in the final three furlongs before taking the lead in the final sixteenth. Adoya, a 35-1 outsider, finished third.

Penelopa races for Litex Commerce and is trained by Miltcho Mintchev. The filly is out of the Torrential mare Lady Linda, who was second and third in the Grade 3 All Along Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2003 and 2004.