09/09/2006 11:00PM

Shirocco takes Prix Foy


Shirocco outsprinted Hurricane Run and Pride to the wire in the Prix Foy as Christophe Soumillon rode the winners of all three course and distance preps for the Oct. 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.

With only five going postward, the $165,000 Group 2 Foy was its usual paceless self as Hurricane Run's entrymate Near Honor led to the 3/16's pole before the principals took over. The 2.20-1 Shirocco got first run as Soumillon urged him to the lead. He was soon joined by Hurricane Run and Kieren Fallon, but the German- bred was too strong and prevailed by a neck with Pride, who had beaten Shirocco into third in last year's Foy and taken the measure of Hurricane Run in this June's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, closing well for third, a neck behind the runner-up. The winning time for the 1 1/2 miles on good ground was 2:32.90.

Afterward, owner Baron George von Ullmann said that Shirocco would run in both the Arc, in which he finished fourth behind Hurricane Run last year, and the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he is the defending titleholder. Andre Fabre, who trains both Shirocco as well as the Michael Tabor-owned runner-up, hinted that the result of the Foy might be overturned in the Arc if the ground at Longchamp is softer on the first of October.

The irrepressible Soumillon followed the Foy with victories aboard Mandesha in the $380,000 Group 1 Prix Vermeille and Rail Link in the $165,000 Group 2 Prix Niel.

The 2.60-1 Mandesha was the easiest of 1-1/2-length winners as she cruised to 2-1/2-length lead at the furlong pole, only to be eased down by Soumillon approaching the line. George Strawbridge's perennial runner-up Montare was second with Royal Highness third and the unlucky Freedonia fourth in a race that went in 2:29.20, the fastest of the three Arc preps.

Mandesha is a very talented daughter of Desert Style trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for the Aga Khan's daughter, Princess Zahra Aga Khan. She has now finished first in five of her six career starts, having won the listed 1 7/16 Prix Urban Sea and the one-mile Group 1 Prix d'Astarte sandwiched around the 1 1/8-mile Group 3 Prix Chloe from which she was disaqualified from first and placed last for interference.

The Aga Khan said that the Arc would be considered for Mandesha, who would have to be supplemented for $76,000. If she goes, Soumillon could lose the mount aboard Shirocco as the Belgian is under contract to ride for the Aga Khan and his family.

Regardless, Fabre will have to find a new rider for Rail Link in the Arc. Soumillon and the Dansili 3-year-old, fresh from a victory in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris on July 14, held off the late challenge of Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes winner Youmzain to reward his Prix Niel backers at a skimpy 1-2. Owned by Khalid Abdullah, Rail Link, who was winning for the fourth time in a row, covered the distance in 2:31.90.

Ladbrokes lists Hurricane Run as their 5-2 Arc favorite with Shirocco at 3-1, Japanese invader Deep Impact 7-2, Rail Link 8-1, Saturday's St. Leger winner Sixties Icon 10-1, Mandesha 12-1, Pride 14-1, Epsom Derby winner Sir Percy 14-1, and Youmzain 25-1.