11/13/2001 1:00AM

O'Brien sets trainer record


Aidan O'Brien set a record for most Group 1 or Grade 1 victories in a year by a trainer, when Ballingarry won Tuesday's Criterium de Saint-Cloud in France. The victory was the 23rd in a Group 1 or Grade 1 race this year by an O'Brien-trained horse, breaking the record of 22 set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1987.

The victory also gave O'Brien an unprecedented ninth win in a European Group 1 race for juvenile colts this year. Only the victory of the Jonathan Pease-trained Act One in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last week prevented O'Brien from winning all 10 European Group 1's for 2-year-old males.

O'Brien trained the first three finishers in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Ballingarry, a Sadler's Wells colt, won the 1 1/4-mile race for 2-year-olds by a length. Group 3 winner Castle Gandolfo finished second, with Black Sam Bellamy, a full brother to Galileo, another length back in third. The time for the 10 furlongs on heavy ground was 2:24.60.

It was the third time this year that O'Brien, champion trainer in Ireland and Britain, had saddled the first three finishers in a Group 1 race. He also trained the first three finishers in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Dewhurst Stakes.