Valixir's win in the Prix Niel (Fr-II) for 3-year-olds did little to clear up the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) picture next month as French favorite Bago finished third.
Ridden by Eric Legrix, Valixir, a 3-year-old son of Trempolino owned by the Lagardere Family and trained by Andre Fabre, stalked a solid pace and earned a nose victory over Prospect Park. Bago, undefeated until his third-place finish behind current Arc favorite Sulamani in the Juddmonte International (Eng-I) last month, was in position to challenge the first two, but came up short, losing by a length in the 1 1/2-mile event.
"The pacemakers did their jobs really well, and Valixir ran a very good race. There is still a lot to come from this horse and he must have a good chance in the Arc," Legrix told Racing Post. "He has a bit of temperament, but was relaxed today. When I asked him to go 250 meters out, he passed his rivals really well. He lost concentration when he got to the front, but came back again at Prospect Park."
Lord du Sod was fourth in the eight-horse field, with French Derby (Fr-I) winner Blue Canari finishing fifth. The time was 2:29.40 on soft going.
Valixir and Prospect Park, who was ridden by Olivier Peslier, are likely to fight again in the Arc Oct. 3. Peslier, who won the Prix Foy (Fr-II) Sunday aboard Policy Maker, said he's ride Prospect Park in the big French race instead.
With Godolphin likely to withdraw the early Arc favorite Doyen from consideration after his seventh-place showing in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown, this year's race appears to be a wide-open affair.
Bago, now suspect at 12 furlongs after his second loss against top company at that distance, could be headed for the United States and a spot in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), his connections indicated afterward.
Policy Maker, meanwhile, landed his spot in the Arc, leading his three rivals every step of the way in winning the 1 1/2-mile Prix Foy by two lengths over Short Pause.
"He can take his chance in the Arc. It looks pretty open," said owner Alec Wildenstein of his 4-year-old Sadler's Wells colt.
Nysaean finished third, with Polish Summer bringing up the rear.