10/30/2003 12:00AM

Bago heads Criterium International


The road to the French Derby starts with Saturday's Criterium International. Since its inception two years ago, the Criterium International, a one-mile Group 1 at Saint-Cloud, has been won by Act One and Dalakhani. Act One finished second to Sulamani in the 2002 French Derby, while Dalakhani took this year's French Derby on his way to the European 3-year-old championship.

The one who might emulate that talented duo in this year's renewal is Bago. Unbeaten in three starts, he is coming off a Sept. 20 victory in the Group 3 Prix des Chenes at Longchamp. Trained by Jonathan Pease, Bago has already shown an ability to settle and quicken, and he should bring home the spoils for the Niarchos Family.

Bago's main rival is probably Joursanvault. A course-and-distance winner, he was two lengths second to Bago in a Longchamp allowance before winning the listed Criterium de Lyon on Oct. 16. Trainer Aidan O'Brien will start Acropolis, a Galway maiden winner who ran sixth behind American Post in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. The most intriguing entry is Brief Floyed. Unbeaten in four starts in Russia, he was 10th in the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Milan.