05/28/2008 12:00AM

Sheikh buys French Derby favorite


Just five days before the French Derby, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has purchased one of the favorites for Sunday's Chantilly classic: Democrate, a son of Dalakhani who won his maiden race on May 5 in the Group 2 Prix Hocquart.

Trained by Andre Fabre, Democrate was purchased from a consortium that included Skymarc Farm and the Moussac family and will run in the French Derby, aka the Prix du Jockey-Club, in either Sheikh Mohammed's maroon-and-white Darley colors or the green colors of his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan.

Twenty-five horses were left in the 1 5/16-mile Derby at Wednesday's four-day entry stage, among them the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained favorite and winner of the Prix La Force, High Rock, and two other Fabre trainees, Prix Greffulhe winner Prospect Wells and Thewayyouare.

Natagora, the winner of the 1000 Guineas, and the Dermot Weld-trained Casual Conquest also stood their ground, although Casual Conquest will work following racing at Leopardstown on Wednesday evening, after which a decision will be made on whether to run him in the June 7 Epsom Derby, for which he is favored but to which he must be supplemented for $148,000, or in the French Derby.

* Vodka is no longer being considered for the CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park on July 5. Second in the Victoria Mile as the 11-10 favorite, she will remain in Japan for the Yasuda Kinen on June 8. Asian Winds, however, the 12-1 Victoria Mile winner, is being considered for the CashCall, while Sunday's Japanese Oaks winner, Tall Poppy, remains under consideration for the American Oaks.