06/13/2014 3:44PM

Three undefeated fillies in French Oaks


George Strawbridge’s unbeaten filly We Are was withdrawn Thursday from the Group 1 Prix de Diane on Sunday at Chantilly, but there are three other undefeated 3-year-old fillies among the 12 entered in a race also known as the French Oaks.

The most prominent of the unbeatens is Avenir Certain, who won three straight minor events before posting a mild upset May 11 in the French 1000 Guineas. Jean-Claude Rouget, who won the Prix de Diane in 2009 with Stacelita and in 2012 with Valyra, trains Avenir Certain, who is not certain to see out the 1 5/16 miles over soft ground Sunday at Chantilly, her three victories having come at seven furlongs and one mile.

Local Hero has started her career 2 for 2 against lesser opposition and faces a demanding test of class Sunday, but the other unbeaten filly, Shamkala, appears more dangerous. The Aga Khan homebred by Pivotal won a one-mile maiden race in her lone start at 2, captured a listed Longchamp stakes over 10 furlongs in her 3-year-old debut, and most recently annexed the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre over 11 furlongs on soft ground at Saint-Cloud. Her trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre, also has two recent Prix de Diane wins, with Sarafina in 2010 and Zarkava in 2008.

Four-time Prix de Diane-winning trainer Andre Fabre starts Miss France, whose best performances have come on the other side of the English Channel, Newmarket wins in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp and, more recently and more importantly, in the English 1000 Guineas on May 4. Miss France encountered soft ground only once in her five starts, finishing ninth of 10 in her debut last summer at Deauville, and she, like Avenir Certain, races beyond one mile for the first time Sunday.

Bawina hasn’t won a race of consequence in four starts but merits respect in her first start beyond one mile. After two straight wins, she made her group stakes debut with a solid, eventful fourth-place finish in the French 1000 Guineas, and her pedigree – by Dubawi and out of a Sadler’s Wells mare – suggests a filly who can improve with added distance.