10/07/2007 12:00AM

Satwa Queen rallies to win Prix de l'Opera

EmailPARIS - Satwa Queen rallied between horses to win the $353,000 Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on Sunday, improving on her second-place finish in last year's race. But unlike last year, when she came to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare afterwards, she is unlikely to travel to America as her trainer Jean de Roualle is considering a return to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Cup.

A 5-year-old mare by Muhtathir, the 3-1 Satwa Queen got the best of a late duel with British invader Promising Lead and Legererte, as just two heads separated the first three. Dual 1000 Guineas winner Finsceal Beo was fifth but English Oaks winner Light Shift could only manage sixth in the 1 1/4-mile contest, which went in 2:03.80 on good to soft ground that was drying out out all afternoon under bright sunshine.

Satwa Queen, who was fifth in last year's Filly & Mare Turf and sixth in the Hong Kong Cup, had been brought up to the Opera with three prep races, the most recent of which was a short head victory in the 1 1/4-mile Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville. After Hong Kong she will very likely be retired, according to de Roualle, as she has now achieved her coveted Group 1 victory.

Benbaun continued his winning ways with a most convincing score in the $353,000 Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, France's definitve sprint race. The 6-year-old Stravinsky gelding took advantage of the drying course that was really more like good than good to soft, taking command under Pat Smullen a fulrong out and proceeding to a 2-length victory over the 2-year-old Nunthorpe Stakes winner Kingsgate Native. The winning time on the straight 5 furlongs for the 5.80-1 Benbaun was :56.70.

Considered a Curragh specialist where he won the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes and the Group 3 Flying Five in his last two starts, Benbaun had been mentioned as a Breeders' Cup Sprint possible but his British trainer Mark Wallace has decided to keep him on turf and will send him to Sha Tin for the 6-furlong Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 9.

The drying ground was all Rio de Plata needed for him to confirm 4-5 favoritism in the $494,000 Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. His authority was complete as he ran out a 2-1/2-length victory for Frankie Dettori and Godolphin, getting the 7 furlongs in 1:21.50. Declaration of War stayed on for second by a short head from Shediak.

Rio de la Plata is a Kentucky-bred Rahy colt who had won the 7-furlong Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood before finishing second last time to leading European juvenile New Approach in the 7-furlong Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. He is nominated to the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 20 but as that race is less than two weeks away, he is only considered a possibility by Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford.

The fast improving Zarkova came with a strong late run under Christophe Soumillon to land the $424,000 Group 2 Prix Marcel Boussac for juvenile fillies. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for her owner/breeder the Aga Khan, Zarkova had won at first asking in a maiden over the Marcel Boussac course and distance on Sept. 9, but ran out of her shoes on Sunday, quickening impressively to defeat Conference Call by 2-1/2 lengths. The time for the mile was 1:37 flat. Sent off at odds of 9-2, Zarkova is, like her 3-time Group 1 winning stablemate Darjina, by Zamindar, but as she is out of a mare by Kahyasi she has a license to stay anywhere between a mile and a mile and a half.

Dissatisfield with the slow early pace, Dominique Boeuf put the 6.70-1 Le Miracle on the lead after a mile of the 2-1/2-mile $353,000 Group 1 Prix du Cadran. They never looked back as Le Miracle held off the late bid of Varevees by a short head as the odds-on choice as 2-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats could only plod on for third, 3 lengths behind the winner. Trained by Werner Baltromei in Germany, Le Miracle is a Monsun gelding who has done all of his racing in England and France this year. Third in last year's Cadran, he was taking revenge on Yeats who had beaten him 5 lengths into third in the Gold Cup in June.