02/09/2007 12:00AM

Bolger brings two champs to classic table


In a country like Ireland, one would be forgiven for assuming that the European champion 2-year-old must be trained by Aidan O'Brien for a combination of Coolmore owners consisting of John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and/or Derrick Smith.

That was the case in 2005 with George Washington, in 2001 with Johannesburg, and in 2000 with Minardi, while big-name O'Brien-trained juveniles like Giant's Causeway, Rock of Gibraltar, Horatio Nelson, Oratorio, and One Cool Cat, all Group 1 winners at 2, were rated at or near the top of one juvenile list or another. So with Holy Roman Emperor having landed a pair of Group 1 races last year, it would have appeared to the casual observer that a member of the Ballydoyle team would be crowned king of the European juveniles once again.

Enter Jim Bolger, with whom O'Brien spent three years as an assistant before taking over at Ballydoyle in 1996. Born on Christmas Day, 1941, Bolger has been one of Ireland's leading trainers since taking out his license in 1976. He trained St. Jovite to win the 1992 Irish Derby and Jet Ski Lady to take the 1991 English Oaks. More recently, he trained the superb mare Alexander Goldrun, winner of five Group 1 races in Ireland, England, France, and Hong Kong.

The County Carlow trainer enters the 2007 season with a double-barreled team of 2-year-olds in European champion colt Teofilo and his filly counterpart, Finsceal Beo. His accomplishment matches the 2005 feat of O'Brien, who trained that year's champions of both juvenile divisions in George Washington and Rumplestiltskin, but there is reason to believe that the Bolger duo could go on to even greater glory at 3 than did the O'Brien pair.

Teofilo, named for Cuba's Olympic heavyweight boxing champion, Teofilo Stevenson, is a son of the outstanding young sire of stamina influence, Galileo, out of the Danehill mare Speirbhean. Undefeated in five starts, Teofilo handled a step up in class in each of his outings, taking a Curragh maiden in July, followed by a Leopardstown listed race and the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh, where he defeated Eagle Mountain, who subsequently won the Group 2 Beresford Stakes by seven lengths.

The Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh on Sept. 17 shaped up as a definitive race, as Bolger sent Teofilo against Holy Roman Emperor, an O'Brien-trained son of Danehill who was coming off a sharp score in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. It was hardly a contest, however, as Teofilo landed a knockout blow early on, defeating Holy Roman Emperor by a rather handy 1 1/4 lengths.

Holy Roman Emperor would recoup at Longchamp two weeks later, winning the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, thus setting up a rematch with Teofilo at Newmarket in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes on Oct. 14. Once again Teofilo came out on top, outdueling Holy Roman Emperor through the last quarter by a head, although it must be admitted that the runner-up didn't have the easiest of trips.

Teofilo outpointed Holy Roman Emperor 123-122 on the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings and rates the winter favorite for both the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. As all of his juvenile triumphs came at seven furlongs, there is reason to believe that he has enough speed to win the one-mile Guineas, but his forte at 3 would appear to be the English and Irish Derby distance of 1 1/2 miles

Teofilo is a Bolger family affair. Bred in Ireland by his trainer, he is nominally owned by the trainer's wife and always ridden, as are almost all Bolger inmates, by the trainer's son-in-law Kevin Manning.

But while Teofilo never does more than is necessary for victory - his five wins have been by a combined 3o1/2 lengths - Finsceal Beo is a more brilliant type.

An Irish-bred daughter of Mr. Greeley out of the Royal Academy mare Musical Treat, she was bought at auction by owner Michael Ryan as a yearling for $425,000. She took a six-furlong Leopardstown maiden in her April 23 debut, but she suffered a hairline fracture that day and didn't return to the races until Sept. 1 when she was second in the one-mile Tralee handicap. A sixth-place finish behind subsequent Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Miss Beatrix in the $2omillion Goffs Million at the Curragh on Sept 19 would serve as a table-setter for the late-season fireworks that would define her championship season.

The setting was Longchamp on Oct. 1, the race was the one-mile Prix Marcel Boussac. Dismissed at 19-1 by the disbelieving French public, Finsceal Beo proceeded to make converts of them all with a going-away five-length victory in 1:34.90, a time that slashed 2.5 seconds off the 19-year-old stakes record.

A run in the the seven-furlong Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 14 was a drop-down in both class and distance, but there were no more Group 1's left in Europe at that stage, and Bolger wanted to give his filly a taste of Newmarket's 1000 Guineas course. She responded with a handy three-length tally to confirm her credentials as the best juvenile filly in Europe, perhaps the world.

Bolger is not concerned about having the favorites for both of the early Guineas classics at Newmarket.

"Pressure?" he asked. "I don't do pressure. That's for tires and footballs."

Neither Teofilo nor Finsceal Beo is likely to leave him deflated in 2007.