Bago Classics Bound with Saint-Cloud Romp

The Nairchos Family's Bago bounded into next year's European Classic picture with a six-length romp in Saturday's Criterium International (Fr-I) at Saint-Cloud.

The undefeated 2-year-old son of Nashwan -- Moonlight's Box (Nureyev) rallied powerfully from the rear of the field with three furlongs to go, seizing the lead slightly more than a furlong from home and cruising to victory under Thierry Gillet. Top Seed was second, four lengths in front of Acropolis, with Marabout Directa fourth in the seven-horse field. The time for the mile was 1:47 on very soft going.

Gillet waited patiently with Bago before bringing him out on the grandstand side to pursue the leading group. He never made use of the whip and offered only slight urging to the 7-5 betting favorite.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners The Niarchos family, told The Racing Post, "Bago really showed his quality today. We were a little worried about the testing going before the race as it was an unknown factor. We won't be making any decisions about the colt's future until the spring. He is already in the Epsom Derby and the Irish Classics. He will be put in all other top races when they close."

Jonathan Pease was the winning conditioner, his second Criterium International victory in the event's three-year history. In 2001, he saddled Act One, who won the Prix Lupin and was second to Sulamani in the Prix du Jockey-Club. Last year's winner was Dalakhani.

"He's always needed a mile and I hope Bago will stay further," Pease said of his four-time winner. "I think he is a better two-year-old than Act One and certainly a very good horse."

Top Seed was in contention throughout, coming very wide into the straight under jockey Tony Culhane. He led for more than a furlong before being caught by the winner. Acropolis, ridden by Mick Kinance, rallied mildly to get into contention and finished steadily without threatening the first two.