04/23/2005 11:00PM

Bago, Divine Proportions victorious in return

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Bago and Divine Proportions made successful returns to the races at Longchamp on Sunday, both serving notice that they have maintained their championship form after long winter vacations.

Bago, last seen when scoring a thrilling victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 3, did no more than was necessary in taking the $261,000 Group 1 Prix Ganay. The 4-5 Jonathan Pease-trained favorite turned back the late challenge of Pride by a short neck to add his name to a list of Ganay winners that includes Aquarelliste, Helissio, Subotica, Triptych and Sagace. Ridden by Thierry Gillet, Bago covered the 1 5/16 miles on very soft ground in 2:17.70. Pride was later disqualified and placed sixth, moving Reefscape up to second. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Ace was placed third and Voix du Nord was moved up to fourth while last year's French Derby winner Blue Canari came home seventh.

Speaking for owners the Niarchos family, spokesman Alan Cooper outlined a program for Bago that would include the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wale's Stakes at Royal Ascot at York on June 15, a defense of his Arc crown on Oct. 2, and a trip to New York for the Breeder's Cup Turf on Oct. 30.

The Niarchos clan was given cause for further joy through the seasonal debut of Divine Proprotions. Their European juvenile filly champ looked sharp under Christophe Lemaire in recording a 3-length victory over Ysoldina in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte, a one-mile course and distance prep for the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, or French 1000 Guineas on May 15.

The Pascal Bary-trained daughter of Kingmambo, sent off as the 9-10 choice, got the mile in 1:42.10, a time 3.3 seconds faster than that clocked half an hour later by Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau winner Laverock.

In the Group 3 Prix La Force, French Derby favorite Helios Quercus was caught near the line by the 8-1 Kendor Dine. A gelded son of Kendor trained by Yves de Nicolay and ridden by Stephane Pasquier, Kendor Dine prevailed by a head, getting the 1 1/4 miles in 2:14.20. In that race, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Falstaff finished fourth but was disqualified and placed fifth and last when his rider Kieren Fallon weighed in light.