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2012 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) Result: Saonois Shocks At 33/1

Racing at the rear of the field for the majority of the early parts of the race, Saonois (FR) made a spirited run to the front of the pack inside the final half mile, and overtook the leaders inside the final furlong to win the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at the beautiful Chantilly Racecourse in France. (Result Chart via Racing Post) The post time favorite, French Fifteen (FR), a tough luck 2nd to Epsom Derby winner Camelot (GB) in the G1-2000 Guineas at Newmarket in his last race, never made much of an impact on the race after another less-than-ideal trip. Andre Fabre's Saint Baudolino (IRE) finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner in second.

The French Derby is a 10.5 furlong race, so just a tad longer than a mile and a quarter. Chantilly, the home of the Prix du Jockey Club, is not nearly as undulating of a course as Epsom Downs, but the ground tends to be quite soft for a lot of French racing (possibly due to serious watering by course maintenance officials), so the race is still testing when compared to the hard, firm and flat turf courses in North America.

Saonois is a three-year-old son of Chichicastenango (FR) out of a Homme De Loi (IRE) mare (Saonoise (FR). He is trained by J-P Gauvin, ridden by Antoine Hamelin, and owned by Pascal Treyve.

Below are the payouts of the Prix du Jockey Club to one Euro:

Horse Win Place
17-Saonois (FR) 33.70 7.80
6-Saint Baudolino (IRE) 2.80
1-Nutello 12.30

There was one American-bred horse in today's field, Nutello, a three-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid out of a Forest Wildcat mare (Nutcase). Nutello finished third at odds of 59/1.

French racing went to fractional timing several years ago, which allows us to delve a bit deeper into the pace and times of their races. They don't give out the first fraction until about five furlongs into the race, but given the usual slow pace on the front-end, the early quarters aren't terribly important. Below are the fractions and internal splits for today's French Derby. The ground at Chantilly was rated "Good to Soft" for today's card.

5.5f 1:04.30
7.5f 1:30.40
8.5f 1:43.10
9.5f 1:55.50
Finish 2:08.10
5.5f 1:04.30
7.5f 26.10
8.5f 12.70
9.5f 12.40
Finish 12.60

Below is the video of today's G1-Prix du Jockey Club from Chantilly. The audio is in French so, you know, just watch the pretty pictures from the beautiful Chantilly. The race begins around the 7:00 mark of the video because it takes about four minutes to load the gate.

If you've ever watched French racing, you know that they can take forever to make a decision on an inquiry or objection. I never realized until today that loading a starting gate can take forever, as well. Sure, it's a 20-horse field, but compare the loading time for this race with the Kentucky Derby and it's like watching a school bus race a Porsche.