05/16/2009 11:00PM

Never on Sunday upsets Prix d'Ispahan


Goldikova failed to handle the soft ground and the added distance of the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchmap on Sunday, finishing a lackluster seventh behind Never on Sunday. Away from the races since her scintillating victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Goldikova faded tamely through the stretch in the $340,000 Group 1 contest, whose 1 1/8 miles, 55 yards were simply too far for her, especially on soft ground.

Only fifth in the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt last month, Never on Sunday had won the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp in September. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, he is a 4-year-old son of the Japanese-bred Forty Niner stallion Sunday Break, and has now won 7 of 10 career starts. He rallied from the back end under Christophe Lemaire to defeat Gris de Gris by a length with Runaway third. Goldikova couldn't even beat her stablemate pacesetter as Celebrissime lasted for fourth, four lengths behind the winner. After tracking Celebrissime's pace in third, Goldikova weakened, beaten 10 1/2 lengths. Sent off at 6-1, Never on Sunday was timed in 1:57.20, or 7.1 seconds off the track mark set by Royal Heroine in 1983.

Never on Sunday, who is nominated to the Arlington Million, will cross the English Channel for his next start in the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. As for Goldikova, her trainer, Freddie Head, has been coming in for criticism of late for sending his champion European sprinter Marchand d'Or to run on dirt in Dubai, where he finished last in the Golden Shaheen, an effort that preceded an equally dull fourth in the Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges two weeks ago. Trying the world's highest-rated miler at 55 yards longer than 1 1/8 miles when she had already failed at the 1 5/16 miles of the French Oaks last year is sure to raise more questions about his tactics.

Rouget and Lemaire also won the other Group 1 race on the Longchamp card as Stacelita remained undefeated with an impressive six-length victory in the 1 1/4-mile, $340,000 Prix Saint-Alary. A daughter of Monsun, the 1.30-1 Stacelita covered the 10 furlongs in 2:10.66, 9.76 second off the track record held by another offspring of Monsun, Manduro. Stacelita will very likely start as the favorite for the Prix de Diane, or French Oaks, at Chantilly on June 14.