10/03/2002 11:00PM

Prix de l'Opera could go to Bright Sky


PARIS - French Oaks winner Bright Sky can use her fine third behind Pearly Shells and Ana Marie in the 1 1/2-mile Prix Vermeille to vault to victory in the 1 1/4-mile Prix de l'Opera, the most prestigious of the five Group 1 races on the Arc undercard Sunday.

Trained by Elie Lellouche, Bright Sky will appreciate the shorter distance of the Prix de l'Opera and can prevail over Marotta, the winner of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary in May, and Irresistible Jewel, who was switched by Dermot Weld from Saturday's Prix de Royallieu in favor of this race after winning the Group 3 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien's entries Quarter Moon and Starbourne always seem to run into better horses, while the dangerous Rebelline, conqueror of Nayef and Johannesburg this season, is a doubtful starter if the ground remains good.

The Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, a straight five furlongs, has seen better fields. The 20 who will start are a motley crew, with Continent the only Group 1 winner among them. A dangerous race to bet, the Abbaye could go to the Robert Collet-trained Zipping, Argentine-bred Swedish Group 3 winner Nobel Prize, or Bahamian Pirate, the runner-up in last year's Abbaye.

Persian Punch would be a popular winner of the 2 1/2-mile Prix du Cadran. A David Elsworth-trained 9-year-old, Persian Punch loves this distance and could beat Miraculous if he runs back to the form of his Goodwood Cup victory in August or his Ascot Gold Cup second in 2001.

The $345,000 Grand Criterium is the seven-furlong feature for juveniles, but the 2-year-old French colts are so weak outside of absentee Dalakhani, the race could go to Intercontinental, an undefeated full sister of Banks Hill.

Andre Fabre has primed Intercontinental for this race, but she will have to be at her very best to defeat Aidan O'Brien's Group 1 Phoenix Stakes winner Spartacus and Group 3 Prix La Rochette victor La Vie dei Colori, who invades again from Italy.

Six Perfections is all the rage in the one-mile Prix Marcel Boussac for juvenile fillies. The way she routed Londonnetdotcom in the Prix du Calvados gives her a decided edge for Fabre over fellow Group 3 winners Rainbows for Life and Loving Pride.