04/07/2009 11:00PM

Naaqoos heads Prix Djebel


French juvenile champion Naaqoos will have his 2000 Guineas trial on Friday in the $73,000 Prix Djebel, a seven-furlong listed race at Maisons-Laffitte in the suburbs west of Paris.

Trainer Freddie Head has chosen the Djebel over Sunday's Prix de Fontainebleau at Longchamp as the seasonal reappearance for Naaqoos because the level Maisons-Laffitte straight course approximates Newmarket's straight and undulating Rowley Mile on which the 2000 Guineas is run. If successful on Friday against six rivals, among them Toulouse listed winner Diableside and course-and-distance maiden winner Stricke, Naaqoos will proceed to Newmarket for the Guineas on May 2.

As he is a half-brother to Barastraight, winner of the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix La Force, no one is doubting Naaqoos's ability to stay a mile at this stage.

The filly equivalent of the Djebel, the Prix Imprudence, has been upgraded to Group 3 status and carries a purse of $106,000. The one to beat is Elusive Wave. Bought privately by Martin Schwartz after her August win in Deauville's Group 3 Prix du Calvados, the Jean-Claude Rouget trainee was subsequently three lengths second to French juvenile filly champ Proportional in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.

Challenging her is Stefer, a daughter of Johannesburg trained by David Smaga who is a two-time course-and-distance winner, most recently in the Group 3 Prix Miesque in November.