Lucayan (near): one of three former French-trained runners in Eddie ReadPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Sofast heads French expats at Del Mar
Preview: USA, Saturday 1.40am Sun BST
Del Mar: Eddie Read Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 3yo+
MORE than half the field for the Eddie Read Stakes, the first Grade 1 of the Del Mar summer season, started off in Europe, including an ex-French trio with top form across the Atlantic.
Former Freddy Head-trained Sofast (Gary Mandella/Julien Leparoux), runner-up in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere as a two-year-old, makes his US debut after finishing last in the Prix d'Ispahan.
Lucayan (Neil Drysdale/Garrett Gomez), a shock winner of last year's Poule d'Essai des Poulains, was last of five on his most recent outing in the Shoemaker Mile, a place behind Eddie Read opponent Jeranimo (Mike Pender/Rafael Bejarano), who had broken his Grade 1 duck in the same event 12 months previously.
The third ex-French contender is Group 3 winner Vagabond Shoes (John Sadler/Victor Espinoza), fast-finishing second in allowance company in May.
The blinkers are off Cogito (Doug O'Neill) was only sixth in an optional claimer on his first start since leaving Brian Meehan, and while Slim Shadey (Simon Callaghan/Gary Stevens) already has three Grade 2 victories on his cv in North America, he has posted a couple of poorish efforts lately.
Peruvian Derby winner Fly Lexis Fly (Peter Miller/Edwin Maldonado) catches the eye as a supplementary entry for an in-form barn but he was miles behind Fed Biz (Bob Baffert/ Martin Garcia) in a Grade 2 on dirt at Santa Anita in January. The question is whether Fed Biz can translate his form to grass.
Middie (Phil Oliver/Corey Nakatani) was third behind the champion Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve on Kentucky Derby day.