10/25/2001 12:00AM

An afternoon for making memories


ELMONT, N.Y. - Like a family photo album, the Breeders' Cup is full of treasured memories.

When good horses get together - and it doesn't happen often - something exciting usually results. That is why this festival of racing is so popular. One of the greatest races we've seen in more than 50 years on the job was the Breeders' Cup Classic of 1989 at Gulfstream Park. Sunday Silence and Easy Goer were magnificent in the Preakness that spring, clawing at each other the length of the stretch until Sunday Silence prevailed by a nose. Those two genuine powerhouses raced the same way in the Classic, with the same compelling finish, and horsemen visiting from Europe said it was the greatest race they ever saw.

The Distaff of 1988 was just as dramatic. Winning Colors, a filly who won the Kentucky Derby that spring, opened a lead that looked good as gold, while Personal Ensign, the 1-2 favorite, was mired in the middle of the pack in what was to be her final start. She had won all 12 races and her people hoped she would be the first horse to retire undefeated on a major level in more than 80 years.

Her chances appeared bleak for the longest time, but Personal Ensign finally got to running. She was still four lengths back at the eighth pole, but as the ancient stands at Churchill Down rocked with excitement, she got up to win by a nose.

The Classic of 2001 could be another golden memory. Aptitude, Tiznow, and Albert the Great have all shown ability and an appreciation of this track. Galileo and Sakhee were brilliant in Europe. They aren't dirt horses but their quality makes them dangerous on any surface.

The possibilities for an epic struggle are considerable.

Sakhee's appearance in the lineup for the Classic was surprising in the wake of his exceptional triumph in the Arc de Triomphe. But trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who has participated in six Breeders' Cups, points out that Sakhee has good natural speed and has shown excellent action on dirt tracks in his preparation.

As for Galileo, he has run seven times and won six, including four Group 1's, and was beaten a head in the Irish Champion Stakes.

It's a record that speaks for itself and suggests he is a better horse than Giant's Causeway, who ran so well in last year's Classic.

The decision to try Sakhee in the Classic sent Fantastic Light to the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he is expected to play a major role. He had variable form at 3, showed marked improvement at 4, and was a resolute campaigner this year at 5.

Two horses in the Turf who bear watching are With Anticipation and Timboroa.

With Anticipation, a 6-year-old gelding by Relaunch, finished first in three consecutive Grade 1 stakes but was disqualified in one of them for drifting. Timboroa put two good stakes victories back to back and ran well on other occasions. Both have speed and either could be on the lead.

One of the principal threats is Hap, who won four of his last five starts and was a strong second in the Arlington Million to Germany's Silvano. Hap finishes well, and in a race with good speed, he could be a knockout.