03/17/2011 12:55PM

Prix Exbury has solid cast at Saint-Cloud


The Group 3 Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud on Saturday, at $111,000 and 1 1/4 miles the first group race of the European season, has attracted a highly competive field of nine. In recent years the Exbury has become a stepping-stone to bigger things in America, as its 2008 winner, Spirit One, would later win the Arlington Million, while last year’s winner, Chinchon, subsequently took Monmouth’s United Nations Stakes.

Cirrus des Aigles is the most accomplished of this year’s entries. Trained by Corinne Barbe-Barande, he has been an autumn wonder of late, winning the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris and the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Prix du Prince d’Orange in 2009 and the 1 1/4m, 155-yard, Group 2 Prix Dollar last fall. But he was unplaced in both the Japan Cup and Hong Kong Cup late last year.

The undefeated Silver Pond may be the class of the race, but he is coming off a long layoff. A son of Act One trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias, he has not been seen since May 10, when he won the 1 3/8-mile, Group 2 Prix Hocquart, a key prep for the French Derby. Agent Secret landed the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Grand Prix de Vichy in July but is 0 for 3 since then. Court Canibal won this race in 2009 but is winless since then. Timos, whose best effort came when he was second in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly in June, may require more ground.

Andre Fabre, off to a hot start this season, will saddle the in-form Polytechnicien. The winner of a one-mile listed race at Deauville in December, he returned with a three-length allowance score on the same Fibresand course on March 4 in his first attempt at 10 furlongs. The Exbury may boil down to which horse is best equipped to handle the soft ground, on which Cirrus des Aigles, Agent Secret and Timos all excel.