10/18/2005 11:00PM

BC Turf: Europeans look strong again

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Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Azamour (left), beating Ace in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, joins fellow European-based horses Bago and Motivator as the top choices in the BC Turf.

The $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29 will have its typical international feel this year, with six of the 15 pre-entered horses traveling from England, France, or Ireland. The European-based starters are expected to dominate the betting in a somewhat open race.

Azamour, the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Newbury, England, in July, is the race's third favorite in a month, following the defections of Powerscourt and Arc winner Hurricane Run. Azamour is listed at 11-4 with the English bookmakers William Hill, a slight choice over two other Europeans - Bago at 9-2 and Motivator at 5-1. Azamour is the 4-1 favorite on the Daily Racing Form line, with Motivator at 6-1 and Bago at 8-1. The lowest-priced U.S.-trained runner is Shakespeare, winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, who is 5-1 on both lines.

Better Talk Now, the defending champion who has won Grade 1 stakes in his last two starts - the United Nations and the Man o' War Stakes - is dismissed at 10-1 by William Hill and is 8-1 on the DRF line. Trained in Maryland by Graham Motion, Better Talk Now is likely to be made a much shorter price by American bettors on race day.

With 15 pre-entered in a race that will be limited to 14 starters, Shake the Bank has been placed on the also-eligible list by a panel of Breeders' Cup racing officials. Trained by Motion, Shake the Bank was pre-entered with the sole purpose of being a pacesetter for Better Talk Now. A defection among the main body of 14 runners would give Shake the Bank a berth.

Shake the Bank's chances were hurt by the late decision by trainer Richard Mandella to pre-enter Laura's Lucky Boy.

Laura's Lucky Boy has not won a graded stakes this year. He was promoted from fourth to third in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 2. The first two finishers of that race - Fourty Niners Son and Leprechaun Kid - are also in the BC Turf.

"He didn't run quite as good as I wanted, but it wasn't a bad race," Mandella said of the Hirsch. "I want to give it a try. All season, I've thought he was coming up to this kind of race."