BREEDERS' CUP NOTES
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GIANT'S CAUSEWAY LEADS FORMIDABLE EUROPEAN TEAM TO BREEDERS' CUP CHAMPIONSHIP AT CHURCHILL DOWNS ON NOV. 4
Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor's brilliant 3-year-old GIANT'S CAUSEWAY, winner of five consecutive Group 1 events, is targeted for the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Kentucky-bred son of Storm Cat leads an imposing cast of Europe's best runners expected to challenge American-trained stars in the 17th Breeders' Cup Championship at Churchill Downs on Sat., Nov. 4.
Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Giant's Causeway easily captured the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last out on Sept. 9 after another stunning tally in the Juddmonte International at York in his previous start. The powerful bay is expected to have his final Classic prep in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Stakes going one mile at Ascot on Saturday (Sept. 23).
Historically, Churchill Downs has been the favored Breeders' Cup site of European horsemen with the largest contingents having competed in the Championship at the four previous renewals held there, beginning in 1988. It would appear that another substantial European team in quality and numbers is coming this year, with possible starters in all eight races.
The big questions now will be the decisions by connections of Michael Tabor's MONTJEU and HH The Aga Khan's SINNDAR, answers not likely forthcoming until after the two stars clash in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Oct. 1. Either or both would be among the favorites for the Turf, pending the Arc result.
MONTJEU, a 4-year-old trained in France by John Hammond, is the early favorite for the Arc and widely regarded as the best mile-and-a-half horse in the world this year. The 3-year-old SINNDAR, winner of the Epsom and Irish Derbies this year, is trained by John Oxx in Ireland. Oxx brought 3-year-old filly Ridgewood Pearl to Belmont Park for her stunning victory in the 1995 Mile.
Regardless of the ultimate decisions of Montjeu and Sinndar, Europe is expected to be well represented in the Turf by Godolphin's 4-year-old FANTASTIC LIGHT, who invaded from England last week to defeat a strong field of American-trained runners in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park. Gary Tanaka's English-trained 4-year-old filly ELA ATHENA finished second in the Man o' War for a one-two European finish and the daughter of Ezzoud is expected to be pointed for either the Turf or Filly & Mare Turf.
Expected to bid for the Distaff is Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Ltd's 3-year-old filly PETRUSHKA, trained by Michael Stoute. The Irish-bred daughter of Unfuwain followed her victory in the Irish Oaks with another stunning score in the Yorkshire Oaks last out on Aug. 23 at York. A stable spokesman indicated after the York race that she would have a final Breeders' Cup prep in the Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 14.
A capsule report on other probable/possible European challengers for Breeders' Cup Championship races:
* Filly & Mare Turf - Lordship Stud's LOVE DIVINE, winner of the Epsom Oaks; Sheikh Marwan al Maktoum's CRIMPLENE, winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Cup at Royal Ascot and Nassau Stakes at Goodwood; and Mme. Maria-Soledad Vidal's VOLVERETA, winner of the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp.
* Mile - Godolphin's MUTATHIR, winner of the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville; Regis Lindy and Barbara Kelly's ARKADIAN HERO, runner-up in the Atto Mile at Woodbine; Sir Eric Parker and Seymour Cohn's INDIAN LODGE, winner of the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp; and BERNSTEIN and KING SALSA.
* Sprint - J.R. Chester's NUCLEAR TREATY, winner of the Nunthorpe at York; and Hideyuki Watanabe's AGNES WORLD, winner of the July Cup at Newmarket.
(This report compiled with the assistance of International Racing Bureau in Newmarket, Eng.)
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