10/31/2010 11:04AM

Roderic O’Connor scores front-running Criterium victory


Roderic O’Connor led virtually throughout to land the Group 1, $348,000 Criterium at Saint-Cloud on Sunday, a performance that boosted the outstanding form of the Dewhurst Stakes, in which the Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Galileo had finished second to Frankel.

But in giving O’Brien his third victory in this one-mile juvenile test, Roderic O’Connor displayed a quirkiness that O’Brien will have to work on during the off-season. Racing wide of the field throughout much of the race, Roderic O’Connor drifted even further wide under Johnny Murtagh through the final furlong, although he was still able to maintain a 1 1/2-length edge over Salto at the wire.

Sent off as the 2.80-1 second choice, Roderic O’Connor covered the left-handed mile in 1:45.70 on ground termed holding, which lies somewhere between very soft and heavy.

Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere runner-up Maiguri was third, five lengths behind Salto, with Group 3 Tattersalls Somerville Stakes winner Rerouted fourth. The Andre Fabre-trained 9-5 favorite French Navy, Godolphin’s winner of the Group 3 Prix des Chenes, never got involved in finishing fifth, 10 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

O’Brien suggested that Roderic O’Connor’s performance was due to his wide draw of 10 in the 10-runner-field. He also said that Roderic O’Connor’s main early season goal next year would be the one-mile 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 7.

Freddie Head, who will send out Goldikova in search of a third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile title on Saturday, had himself a winner on the Criterium International undercard as Rajsaman, a 3-year-old son of Linamix, won the Group 3, $111,000 Prix Perth at a mile, defeating Alianthus by a length as the 6.20-1 third choice. Ridden by Davy Bonilla, Rajsaman had won the one-mile, Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau at Longchamp in April before finishing 10th in the French 2000 Guineas and third in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix du Prince d’Orange. His time for the Saint-Cloud mile was marginally better than that of Roderic O’Connor’s at 1:45.40.