07/12/2007 12:00AM

Sagara fits Grand Prix profile


PARIS - The $838,000 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Saturday is a wide-open affair that could be won by any one of five of the eight

3-year-olds colts who will line up for the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 race.

French racing's Bastille Day fixture has fallen to late-bloomers in each of its first two incarnations as a 12-furlong race, with 2005 winner Scorpion having gone on to take the classic St. Leger Stakes and last year's winner Rail Link landing the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. If a similar type with the ability to stay 1 1/2 miles is to follow in their footsteps, France's most historic race could go to Sagara, a Jonathan Pease-trained son of Sadler's Wells who had nothing but trouble when finishing seventh from post 20 in the 1 5/16-mile French Derby on June 3.

Sagara had been a close second in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at 1 5/16 miles before finishing like a shot in the derby. Like Scorpion and Rail Link, he should relish 1 1/2 miles, and with Thierry Gillet riding is very much the value selection.

Airmail Special will attempt to emulate Rail Link by coming out of a course and distance victory in the Group 3 Prix du Lys to win in this much tougher company. Although only a neck winner in the Lys, Airmail Special, a Peintre Celebre colt, could rate favoritism with young Johann Victoire riding for trainer Andre Fabre.

Pascal Bary will saddle fast-closing French Derby fourth Zambezi Sun for race sponsor Juddmonte Farms, but there are doubts about the Dansili colt's ability to stay 1 1/2 miles, although he did record victories going 1 1/4 miles and 1 5/16 miles in two tries prior to the derby.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who sent out Scorpion two years ago, has Eagle Mountain this time around. A distant second to the subsequently beaten Authorized in the Epsom Derby, Eagle Mountain was only third in the Irish Derby and may already have reached his peak.

The one they all have to fear is German invader Axxos. A Peter Schiergen-trained son of Monsun, Axxos won the 1 3/8-mile, Group 2 Oppenheim-Union-Rennen in June and would have started as the favorite for the German Derby but was withdrawn because of heavy ground. Supplemented to the Grand Prix for $50,000, Axxos will probably get the good ground he likes on Saturday at Longchamp. He and rider Andrasch Starke could well complete a rich exacta with Sagara.