07/11/2010 11:00PM

Planteur aims to build on French Derby


Planteur heads a contentious field of nine 3-year-olds going 1 1/2 miles in the Group 1, $754,000 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Wednesday. France's Bastille Day feature has drawn three horses from the Prix du Jockey-Club, which, at 1 5/16 miles, serves as the French Derby.

Planteur finished the best of those three on June 6 when three lengths second to runaway winner Lope de Vega. Trained by Elie Lellouche for Ecurie Wildenstein, the Danehill Dancer colt had previously landed the 1 5/16-mile, Group 2 Prix Noailles but could be vulnerable at 12 furlongs.

The Aga Khan's Behkabad looks more like the winner. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile, Group 3 Prix de Guiche in May, he was finishing just as well as Planteur when fourth in the French Derby. By Cape Cross, the sire of Sea the Stars, his dam Behkara was successful against colts in the 1 7/8-mile, Group 2 Prix Hubert de Chaudenay, so 1 1/2 miles should be well within his range. Gerald Mosse replaces the injured Christophe Lemaire in the saddle.

Ice Blue, a Pascal Bary-trained son of Dansili who won the 1 1/4-mile, Group 2 Prix Greffulhe prior to finishing seventh in the French Derby, may be suspect over the Grand Prix distance.

Aidan O'Brien will saddle distant Epsom Derby fourth Jan Vermeer, who improved to be third in the Irish Derby behind stablemate Cape Blanco. The last time the Montjeu colt was in France, he won the one-mile, Group 2 Criterium International in November. Johnny Murtagh will ride, but Jan Vermeer would have to improve again to beat the locals.

Andre Fabre has a pair of dark horses in the lineup. Godolphin's Lawspeaker was the winner of the listed 1 1/2-mile Derby du Midi in Bordeaux on May 29, while Goldwaki, the Wertheimer brothers German-bred son of Dalakhani, has won four in a row, most recently the Group 3 Prix du Lys over the Grand Prix course and distance. With Olivier Peslier aboard, Goldwaki poses a serious threat to Behkabad and Planteur.

Starspangledbanner to keep racing

The Coolmoore braintrust has decided to keep their two-time Group 1 winning sprinter Starspangledbanner in training for the remainder of the year. Originally scheduled to be sent back to his native Australia for the incipient Southern Hemisphere breeding season after his victory Friday in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, the 4-year-old son of Choisir will instead stay put at O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard.

In related news, Murtagh has decided against an appeal of the six-day suspension he picked up for careless riding aboard Starspangledbanner in the July Cup. The ban means he will miss the ride aboard Cape Blanco in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 24.