11/11/2003 12:00AM

Easy to see where Bago gets his class

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LAS VEGAS - When it comes to pedigrees, there is nothing more important than the dam, and recent stakes results once again underscore the importance of class in the dam. Whether the dam was a stakes winner or was unraced, the key to racing class runs through her.

Bago, a 2-year-old colt by Nashwan, won France's Group 1 Criterium International Stakes by six lengths Saturday to remain undefeated in four starts. He had earlier captured the Group 3 Prix des Chenes and is one of the most exciting prospects for next year's European classics. His sire was a champion 3-year-old colt in England and France, winning such prestigious events as the Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Coral Eclipse Stakes.

Bago is the first foal out of an unraced Nureyev mare, Moonlight's Box, and although Moonlight's Box was unraced, her female line is so strong she automatically became a coveted broodmare. Her first five dams (dam, dam's dam, dam's granddam, etc.) have all had astounding success, producing Northern Dancer, Danehill, and Machiavellian.

Moonlight's Box is out of Coup de Genie, a champion at 2 in France. A slight, attractive bay filly, Coup de Genie captured the Group 1 Prix Morny and Prix de la Salamandre. She was so highly regarded, she was shipped to Hollywood Park in 1993 to race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Because she was by the prepotent Mr. Prospector, it was assumed Coup de Genie would transfer her brilliance to dirt. The highly strung Coup de Genie washed out badly in the heat before the race but still managed to finish fourth behind three classy fillies - Phone Chatter, Sardula, and Heavenly Prize.

As a broodmare, Coup de Genie surpassed her achievements on the track. Bred to a variety of the leading stallions, she produced high-quality individuals no matter to whom she was mated. Now 12, Coup de Genie is the dam of four major stakes winners, including Glia and Snake Mountain (both by A.P. Indy), Loving Kindness (Seattle Slew), and Denebola (Storm Cat), one of France's top 2-year-old fillies this year whose victories include the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.

Bago's third dam, Group 3 winner Coup de Folie, is an example of the most exquisite form of inbreeding. Both her sire (Halo) and dam (Raise the Standard) descend from the same female family, which is the purest form of the Rasmussen Factor, or RF (inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals). In this instance, Coup de Folie is inbred to Almahmoud, one of the most influential matrons in the history of the turf, through her two best daughters, Natalma and Cosmah. This RF pedigree pattern was named Formula One by the late Rasmussen and his colleague Rommy Faversham.

Coup de Folie produced five stakes winners. Bred to Mr. Prospector, Coup de Folie produced two juvenile champions in France - Coup de Genie and her full brother Machiavellian - as well as Group 3 winner Ocean of Wisdom. Machiavellian is one of the world's top stallions, having sired such high-class runners as Dubai World Cup winners Almutawakel and Street Cry. Bred to Irish River, Coup de Folie produced the Group 1 winner Exit to Nowhere, now a sire in France. The masterful planning of mating Coup de Folie to Nureyev created further inbreeding to Natalma, and resulted in a Group 2 winner, Hydro Calido.

Bago's fourth dam, Raise the Standard, was a half-sister to Northern Dancer, and has made a lasting impact on the breed. Unraced, like Moonlight's Box, Raise the Standard became a blue hen, producing two daughters who themselves became stars in the breeding shed. Notably, both those daughters - Coup de Folie (Halo) and Bonita Francita (Devil's Bag) - were by a stallion and his son, and both had the Rasmussen factor link to Almahmoud.

Bonita Francita is the dam of Orpen (Lure), a champion at 2 in Ireland and a promising freshman sire this year; stakes winner Etterby Park (Silver Hawk); and the late Jules (Forty Niner), sire of Peace Rules. Bred to Private Account, Bonita Francita produced Black Penny, the dam of a French 1000 Guineas winner, Bluemamba.

Raise the Standard's half-sister Spring Adieu (Buckpasser-Natalma), created her own important branch of this family, producing Razyana (His Majesty), the dam of five stakes winners, including the late international sire sensation Danehill, as well as Eagle Eyed, Harpia, Euphonic, and Shibboleth.

Northern Dancer has long been acknowledged as a sire of sires, and his sire line (grandsons and even great-grandsons) continues its dominance in the world today, most notably through Storm Cat.

But Northern Dancer's female family has been just as prolific, and broodmares tracing to Natalma, Cosmah, and Almahmoud have proved invaluable. Inbreeding to this female line greatly intensifies this high quality, and has resulted in the high-class Danehill, Machiavellian, Denebola, and Moonlight's Box (inbred 3x4 to Natalma), the dam of Bago.