06/23/2005 11:00PM

Bago has serious rival in Yeats


Bago faces a formidable challenge from Yeats in Sunday's $481,000, Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, in which he will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing loss in Ireland.

Beaten at the Curragh by Grey Swallow in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 22, Bago will be going 1 1/2 miles for the first time since he won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last Oct. 3. In between the Arc and the Tattersalls, Bago landed the Group 1 Prix Ganay at the Tattersalls distance of 1 5/16 miles, and though there is no denying Bago's quality, he appears vulnerable to a revivified Yeats.

Plagued by nagging muscle injuries that kept him out of action for most of last year, Yeats bounced back from a disappointing Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes loss to Cairdeas to score impressively in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom on June 3. That day, he was allowed to set his own pace but quickened away powerfully from the three-furlong pole for a 2-1/2-length tally over Alkaased, the winner of the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes who will also line up at Saint-Cloud on Sunday.

An Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Sadler's Wells, Yeats has always given the impression that he is absolutely first class. He can prove that summation by taking the measure of Bago, although there are other threats in the field, as well.

The improving Geordieland is coming off a victory in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly, while the oft-tried Australian invader Elvstroem, who has been close up to the likes of Rakti, Valixir, and Azamour in recent weeks, is certainly worth a place bet. Policy Maker, a two-time Group 2 winner at the distance, was second in this last year, while Mister Conway, winner of four of his last five in Athens, adds some Mediterranean flavor to one of the most important 1 1/2-mile events on the European calendar.