06/08/2008 11:00PM

Zarkava takes Prix de Diane with ease


So easy was Zarkava's cruise control victory in the $1.2 million Prix de Diane at Chantilly on Sunday, her rider Christophe Soumillon was blowing kisses to the grandstand at the sixteenth pole. This three-length French Oaks triumph, coming on the heels of an equally impressive score in the French 1000 Guineas four weeks ago, established Zarkava, an Zaminday filly owned by the Aga Khan, as very likely the best of her generation anywhere in the world.

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre proclaimed her "the best of her sex I've ever trained," and stated that the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe would be her ultimate goal this season. Since Zarkava is out of a mare by an Epsom and Irish Derby winner, Kahyasi, the step up from the Diane's 1 5/16 miles to the Arc's 1 1/2 miles would appear to be within her range.

Displaying a superb turn of foot as usual, Zarkava came from well behind to lead a furlong from the line, soon prompting Soumillon's grandstanding. Gagnoa was left floundering in her wake in second, and she had 1 1/2 lengths on the third-place Goldikova. The Prix Cleopatre winner, Leo's Starlet, weakened to finish ninth of 13, beaten 10 lengths. The winning time for the 2-5 favorite was 2:07.10 on good to soft ground.

Now undefeated in five starts, Zarkava will, according to Royer-Dupre, prep for the Arc in a 1 1/4-mile race, but "not at Deauville," meaning that the Prox de la Nonette at that track, as well as Longchamp's 1 1/2-mile Prix Vermeille, the traditional filly prep for the Arc, are not on her dance card.