10/29/2010 3:26PM

French Navy, Roderic O'Connor head tough Criterium International cast


Andre Fabre and Aidan O’Brien have each won two of the last five runnings of Saint-Cloud’s $348,000, Group 1 Criterium International. Sunday’s renewal could be the icebreaker as they will saddle the two favorites for the one-mile juvenile test, Fabre with Godolphin’s undefeated French Navy, O’Brien with Roderic O’Connor, the game runner-up to Frankel in the Dewhurst Stakes.

A son of the talented young stallion Shamardal, French Navy made it 3 for 3 with a victory in the one-mile, Group 3 Prix des Chenes at Longchamp on Sept. 18. A half-brother to one-mile, Group 3 Sovereign Stakes winner Sea Lord, he will be ridden by Maxime Guyon, who will sport Godolphin SLC’s straw colors. Roderic O’Connor, who broke his maiden two back by beating his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf bound stablemate Master of Hounds by 2 1/2 lengths at the Curragh, looked like the real deal leading much of the way in the seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes before giving way to the sensational Frankel. A Galileo colt, he will be partnered by Johnny Murtagh.

Barry Hills and Juddmonte should be in the mix with Rerouted, winner of the seven-furlong Somerville Tattersalls. A son of Stormy Atlantic, he who was briefly considered for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Anything sent out by the Aga Khan and Alain de Royer-Dupre must be given every consideration, and their debut course-and-distance maiden winner Ziyarid is no exception. The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Havane Smoker had his perfect record ended by French Navy in the Prix des Chenes when he was second by just three-quarters of a length, so reversing that form is hardly out of the question.

Further Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf clues can be gleaned from the performances of Abjer and Maiguri. Trained by Clive Brittain, Abjer beat Juvenile Turf hopeful Dux Scholar into third by 2 1/4 lengths when winning Ascot’s one-mile, Group 3 Autumn Stakes. Maiguri, second to Wootton Basset in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, had Juvenile Turf candidate Utley 2 1/2 lengths further back in fifth that day.

Rounding out the superb field is Salto. Trained by Freddie Head for the Wertheimer brothers, this son of Pivotal and course-and-distance Group 3 Prix Perth winner Danzigaway was second to French Navy in his first two outings, since when he has broken his maiden going a mile at Maisons-Laffitte. Salto is a half-brother to Santa Anita’s Arcadia Handicap and Keeneland’s Commonwealth Stakes winner Silent Name and will be ridden by Olivier Peslier.