05/16/2005 12:00AM

Vatori headed to French Derby


Vatori booked his place in the French Derby with a late running victory in the $151,500 Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud on Monday.

Ridden by Stephane Pasquier, the son of 1995 French 2000 Guineas winner Vettori held off British invader Plea Bargain by a neck at 7-1 while traveling the 1 1/4 miles on good to soft ground in 2:08.20. Supplementary entry and x-x favorite Melanosporum was third, another 1 1/2 lengths behind.

A full brother to Hightori, a four-time group race winner on both turf and dirt, the Philippe Demercaster-trained Vatori had concluded his juvenile campaign with a Saint-Cloud victory in the one-mile Group 3 Prix de Conde. Only fourth behind Helios Quercus in the listed one-mile Prix Omnium II at the same track in his seasonal debut on March 28, he clearly enjoyed the added distance on Monday and will line up in the Prix du Jockey-Club, or French Derby, at Chantilly on June 5 with a good chance at that race's reduced distance of 1 5/16 miles.