06/24/2001 11:00PM

Strike halts Longchamp


PARIS - The Grand Prix de Paris card at Longchamp was called off Sunday when pari-mutuel clerks staged a surprise one-day strike.

Workers for the Pari-Mutuel Hippodrome (PMH) walked into the paddock before the start of the eight-race card seeking a 2percent wage increase. When their demands were not met, officials of France Galop decided to run the meeting without betting, at which point a large group of bettors occupied the racecourse near the finish line.

They were offered free rides to nearby offtrack betting shops where workers were not on strike, but refused. At 4:45 pm, two hours and 15 minutes after the first race had been scheduled to go off, France Galop chairman Louis Romanet called proceedings to a halt.

The meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday, in direct competition with a jump race meeting at Auteuil Racecourse barely a mile away on the other side of the Bois de Boulogne.

The Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, which was to have featured a battle between French Derby runner-up Chichicastenango, two Criquette Head-Maarek trained horses in Mizzen mast and Okawango, and a pair from Aidan O'Brien's yard, Bonnard and Hans Anderson. Also postponed were the Prix du Lys and the Prix de la Porte Maillot, both Group 3 contests.

T.M. Opera O loses to Meisho Doto

T.M. Opera O, the world's richest racehorse, suffered his second loss in three starts this year when he ran second to old rival Meisho Doto in the $2-million Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin on Sunday.

The 2.40-1 Meisho Doto took revenge for three narrow defeats at the hands of T.M. Opera O last year with a 1 1/4-length victory. Stay Gold, who had beaten Fantastic Light in the Dubai Sheema Classic, finished fourth, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

The time for the 1 3/8-mile contest on firm ground was 2:11.70.