02/25/2005 12:00AM

French filly's beauty just one part of her allure

The 3-year-old filly Divine Proportions (8), who has beaten males multiple times, could come to New York for this fall's Breeders' Cup.

NEW YORK - The filly who goes by the name Divine Proportions is every bit as classically endowed as her name would indicate, as well as being possessed of a race record that entitles her to flaunt her heavenly dimensions.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Kingmambo out of the Sadler's Wells mare Myth to Reality, Divine Proportions is described by Timeform as "a smallish, quite attractive filly," a rather reserved British observation that still conjures up an image of Brigitte Bardot in her youthful heyday. Performing, as did Bardot in her developing years, exclusively in France, Divine Proportions seduced her male rivals into acquiescence four times last year at the tender age of 2, winning in quick succession a maiden, a Group 3, a Group 2, and a Group 1. The last race was Deauville's six-furlong Prix Morny, a race that had been won a year earlier by her half-brother Whipper.

She then turned her attention to her own sex while stepping up to a mile in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, or, as it was once known, the Criterium des Pouliches, but none of her nine rivals that Oct. 3 afternoon at Longchamp could approach her high standard. Divine Proportions retained the spotlight with a handy two-length triumph while setting a stakes record of 1:36.70, a time unmatched by a passel of highly talented previous Marcel Boussac winners, among them Miesque, Triptych, Salsabil, Culture Vulture, Ryafan, and Six Perfections, all of whom were later successful on the international stage.

That Divine Proportions was rated the highweight 2-year-old filly on the 2004 World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings was not unexpected, but it was perhaps a bit surprising that her mark of 117 left her six pounds behind the 2-year-old highweight colt, Shamardal. A line through Layman, whom Divine Proportions defeated by 1 1/2 lengths in the Morny, suggests that she should be two or three pounds closer to Shamardal, as Layman had finished just a neck behind Oratorio in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere while Oratorio was 2 1/2 lengths behind Shamardal in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Trained by Pascal Bary, Divine Proportions hails from the same Niarchos outfit that produced Miesque and Six Perfections, as well as the 2003 Marcel Boussac winner Denebola. Her early season target will be either the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1 or the French equivalent at Longchamp two weeks later. She would appear capable of getting the 1 5/16 miles of the French Oaks at Chantilly June 12 but, in any event, the chances of seeing her at Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup should not be discounted. The Niarchos family has a nose for the Cup, and Divine Proportions appears well designed for either the Mile or the Filly and Mare Turf, which will be run at 1 1/4 miles this year.

Playful Act England's best

Playful Act is the English filly to watch this spring. By Sadler's Wells out of the Silver Hawk mare Magnificent Style, she improved on her victory in the one-mile Group 2 May Hill Stakes to lead throughout in the Group 1 Fillies Mile, charging up the hill on Ascot's right-handed course as if there were no tomorrow. So impressive was she after her Ascot victory that trainer John Gosden said that she would go straight to the 1000 Guineas and the English Oaks. "I won't muck about with any other races," he confidently stated.

Playful Act's dam won the 1 5/16-mile Group 3 Musidora Stakes. She is also the dam of 1 3/4-mile Group 3 Park Hill Stakes winner Echoes in Eternity, so a future wager on Playful Act in the 1 1/2-mile Oaks, scheduled for June 3 at Epsom, would not be out of order.

Don't sell Paita short

The result of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud is one that handicappers ignore at their peril. At 1 1/4 miles the longest Group 1 race in the world for 2-year-olds, it has been won in the last 10 years by future French Derby runnerup and Group 2 Grand Prix d'Evry winner Poliglote, and future Group 2 Prix Noailles winner and three-time classic-placed Ballingarry. The 2003 winner was Voix du Nord, who would have started favorite for the French Derby but for being sidelined by a raceday eve injury. Runners-up include the redoubtable Daylami and French Derby winner Ragmar.

Yet the WTRR (formerly known as the International Classification) always manages to disparage the Criterium de Saint Cloud winner. As a German-trained filly named Paita won the most recent running, the WTRR was only too happy to slap her with a rather insulting 111, one pound lower than Yehudi, the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt she beat in the race by three-quarters of a length.

While the WTRR was not impressed with Paita, leading Japanese owner Teruya Yoshida was. He shelled out $1 million for Paita, a British-bred daughter of Intikhab, but will keep her at Mario Hofer's yard in Krefeld. Not nominated to the German classics, Paita's early season target will be the French Oaks, in which she could give Divine Proportions a run for her money.