10/15/2001 11:00PM

Arc winner seems like a lock in BC Turf


LAS VEGAS - Although Officer is sure to be the heaviest favorite on World Thoroughbred Championships Day in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the most likely winner on the star-studded card is Sakhee (by Bahri-Thawakib, by Sadler's Wells), in the Turf. Unlike past Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winners who were highly regarded but failed in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Sakhee is a relatively fresh horse, who is making only his fourth start of the year in the Turf.

Second in last year's Epsom Derby behind Sinndar (who went on to capture last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe), Sakhee had knee troubles and had been on the shelf from July 2000 to July of this year. Undefeated in three starts this year, Sakhee is the most highly regarded European runner to race in the Breeders' Cup Turf since Daylami. His six-length victory was one of the largest winning margins in the Arc's long history. Sea-Bird's lopsided romp over classy runners Reliance and Diatome in 1965 still ranks as one of the greatest Arc performances. While the second-place finisher, Aquarelliste, is a filly of quality, Sakhee's Arc victory was aided by the absence of his two greatest challengers, Fantastic Light and Galileo. Before his Arc victory, Sakhee won the prestigious Juddmonte International Stakes on Aug. 21, romping by seven easy lengths.

Powerhouse pedigree

There are many brilliant aspects to Sakhee's pedigree, beginning with the fact that he is one of many Breeders' Cup runners who possess the coveted Rasmussen Factor (inbred to an influential female within five generations through different individuals). Sakhee is inbred 4x5 to Lalun, and this particular inbreeding pattern has resulted in a phenomenal percentage of group winners, which Rommy Faversham and Leon Rasmussen write in their acclaimed book "Inbreeding to Superior Females." Lalun is the dam of Never Bend (Nasrullah) and Bold Reason (Hail to Reason), and the crossing of these half-brothers creates the inbreeding pattern. Never Bend is the sire of Riverman and Mill Reef, and Bold Reason is the damsire of super stud Sadler's Wells (as well as his full brothers, Fairy King and Tate Gallery). An inordinate number of group winners by Sadler's Wells are out of mares who have Never Bend in their pedigrees.

Sakhee is by Bahri (Riverman), a champion miler in England when he captured the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and St. James's Palace Stakes, both Group 1 events. Bahri defeated the subsequent Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Ridgewood Pearl, by six lengths in the QE II Stakes, and also defeated a classy field of runners in the St. James's Palace Stakes, which included Charnwood Forest, Vettori, and Atticus. Bahri also finished second by a neck to Sayyedati in the Sussex Stakes and showed high quality finishing second to champion Halling in the Juddmonte International Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.

Bahri's dam, the stakes-placed Nijinsky II mare Wasnah, is a half-sister to stakes winner Winglet, the dam of champion Ajina and stakes winner Rob's Spirit. His second dam, Highest Trump (Bold Bidder), was champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland and is the dam of three stakes winners.

Female family of Too Bald and Broad Brush

Sakhee is a three-quarter-brother to stakes winner Nasheed (Riverman), and both are out of the Sadler's Wells mare Thawakib, who captured the Ribblesdale Stakes. Thawakib's dam, group-placed Tobira Celeste (Ribot), was bred by Charles Englehard's Cragwood Estates, and the list of top-class runners from this female family is staggering. In addition to Thawakib, Tobira Celeste is also the dam of Celestial Storm (Roberto), winner of the Princess of Wales Stakes. Tobiro Celeste is the granddam of stakes winners River Memories, Matahif and Raise a Memory, and stakes-placed Keswa.

Sakhee's third dam, Heavenly Body (Dark Star), won the Matron Stakes at 2, and is a full sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Hidden Talent, the dam of Turn to Talent (the granddam of Broad Brush) and 1986 Broodmare of the Year, Too Bald.

Too Bald had blazing speed and was able to carry this speed to middle distances, winning such races as the Barbara Fritchie Handicap (twice), Bed O' Roses Handicap, and Columbiana Handicap. Like so many well-bred fillies who were good but not champions on the track, she became a champion in the breeding shed, producing five major stakes winners, including Capote (Seattle Slew), Exceller (Vaguely Noble), Vaguely Hidden (Vaguely Noble), American Standard (In Reality), and Baldski (Nijinsky II). A stakes-placed daughter, My Song for You (Seattle Song), produced stakes winner Minister's Melody, and yet another daughter, Blazon, is the granddam of stakes winners D'Hallevant, Stanott ,and Charita.

The Breeders' Cup Turf, and not the Classic, would be the race of the day if Galileo (Sadler's Wells) and Fantastic Light (Rahy) were to hook up with Sakhee. The Turf is where they really belong. Unlike last year's Classic runner-up, Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat), who was bred for either turf or dirt, both Galileo and Fantastic Light are bred for grass and will be at a disadvantage racing for the first time on dirt. Their absence in the Turf makes Sakhee a standout.