05/16/2010 12:00AM

Special Duty gets help from stewards again


With the help of the French stewards, Special Duty made history at Longchamp on Sunday as she became the first horse to win two classics without finishing first in either of them.

Sent off at 9-5, Special Duty, finished second in the $556,000, Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, or French 1000 Guineas, but was placed first after a stewards' inquiry in which the first filly across the line, Liliside, was disqualified and placed sixth. Two weeks ago at Newmarket, Special Duty had been the beneficiary of the British stewards' largesse when she was placed first in the English 1000 Guineas after having been fouled by Jacqueline Quest.

The Longchamp judges ruled that the 22-1 Francois Rohaut-trained Liliside had bumped Special Duty's entrymate Full Steam at the quarter pole, causing that filly to interfere with Rosanara and Lady of the Desert, who eventually finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Ridden by Jean-Bernard Eyquem, Liliside rallied to take the lead near the line, a head in front of Special Duty, who was just up for second by a neck from the 27-1 Baine, who was placed second. Baine was just a head in front of Joanna, who was placed third as her Aga Khan entrymate Rosanara was just a head behind her in being placed fourth.

Four years ago, Rohaut's filly Eyquem had been placed first by the stewards in the Pouliches when Price Tag was disqualified.

Less than a length covered the first six home in Sunday's one-mile classic, which went in 1:37.40 on good ground.

This was the seventh time that trainer Criquette Head-Maarek has won the French 1000 Guineas, and the first time a filly had won both the English and French versions since 1988 when Head-Maarek turned the trick with Ravinella.

Head-Maarek is considering the one-mile, Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot for Special Duty, but is worried that it might come too soon on June 18.

* An hour later, Lope de Vega caused a mild surprise at 8-1 in the $556,000 Poule d'Essai des Poulains, or French 2000 Guineas, when he came from behind to deny British invader Dick Turpin, who had finished second to Makfi in the English 2000 two weeks ago. Trained by Andre Fabre and ridden by Maxime Guyon for his German owners at Gestut Ammerland, Lope de Vega prevailed by a half-length over the Richard Hannon-trained Dick Turpin. It was another length back to the 136-1 Shamalgan. The time for the mile was 1:36.10.

An Irish-bred son of French Derby winner Shmardal, Lope de Vega gave Fabre his fifth French 2000 Guineas. He had finished a close third behind Rajsaman and Siyouni in the Prix de Fontainebleau in a one-mile race at Longchamp on April 25. On Sunday, those two, both trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for the Aga Khan, disappointed. Siyouni was ninth and Rajsaman 10th, although they both had excuses as Siyouni was forced to check at the quarter pole while Rajsaman, who was expected to go straight to the front, stumbled at the start and had to be rushed up to get an early lead.

Lope de Vega and Dick Turpin will renew their budding rivalry in the one-mile St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15 when they will run into Makfi as well as the Kenny-McPeek-trained Noble's Promise.

* Marchand d'Or returned to the races with a bang when he rallied at 10-1 under Davy Bonilla to snatch the Group 3, $98,000 Prix de Saint-Georges by a head from the pacesetting Benbaun on the line.

The 2008 European sprint champion, Marchand d'Or had been unraced since finishing eighth in the Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly last May 31. That had been his fourth consecutive unplaced effort, prompting his owner Carla Giral to switch him from Freddie Head to Mikel Delzangles. The 7-year-old Marchand d'Or covered the straight five furlongs in 55.90 seconds and will likely make his next start at Royal Ascot, either in the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes or the six-furlong Golden Jubilee Stakes.