11/12/2009 12:00AM

Criterium de Saint-Cloud wide open


The $375,000 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, France's annual Group 1 exercise in which 2-year-olds are asked to go 1 1/4 miles on heavy ground, is a wide-open affair this year. Trainer Aidan O'Brien will send three horses to the suburban Paris track on Saturday in an effort to retain the prize he won last year with Fame and Glory, but a couple of locally trained juveniles could upset his plans.

O'Brien has won the last three Group 1 juvenile races in Europe with Beethoven in the Dewhurst Stakes, St Nicholas Abbey in the Racing Post Trophy, and Jan Vermeer in the Criterium International. On Saturday, the best of his three may be Mikhail Glinka, a Galileo colt who won the listed 1 1/8-mile Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown last Saturday on heavy ground. Jamie Heffernan rides as Johnny Murtagh opts for Don Carlos, another son of Galileo who won his maiden going seven furlongs at Leopardstown on Oct. 26. Banyan Tree, the winner of a Killarney maiden on heavy ground and a son of User Friendly, is the third O'Brien entry.

Andre Fabre will saddle Simon de Montfort for Godolphin. A King's Best colt, he is 2 for 2, having taken a one-mile Chantilly maiden on soft ground and a 1 1/8-mile Longchamp allowance on very soft. The Goldikova team of Freddy Head, Olivier Peslier and the Wertheimers have Kaage, a promising son of Monsun who broke his maiden last time going a mile on heavy ground at Compiegne.

Layali Al Andalus will carry Sheikh Mohammed's maroon-and-white colors for Mark Johnston. A Halling colt, he was just three-quarters of a length second last time in the one-mile, Group 1 Beresford Stakes to St Nicholas Abbey, the subsequent 3 3/4-length winner of the Racing Post Trophy. He has, however, never run on anything worse than good ground.