06/25/2004 12:00AM

Bago has only three Paris foes


While most of the racing world will focus on the Irish Derby on Sunday, the colt who may be the best 3-year-old in Europe will be running at Longchamp in the $605,000 Grand Prix de Paris.

The 5-for-5 Bago has frightened away most of his competition in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 contest, in which only three will challenge him. One of those is his stablemate, Alnitak, who is in the race solely to insure a decent pace.

Crowned the European juvenile champion after his six-length romp in the Criterium International last November, Bago was beset by a series of minor ailments that forced him to miss the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby. Instead, he made his 3-year-old debut at Chantilly on French Derby day with a crushing three-length victory in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat over Cacique.

Cacique is again a rival on Sunday, while Privy Seal, ninth in a Royal Ascot listed event last week, completes the field.