10/22/2006 11:00PM

Classic gets three of world's best


George Washington will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 and will be ridden by Michael Kinane, trainer Aidan O'Brien said Sunday.

The decision, made by the Coolmore braintrust, means that the Classic will feature three of the four highest-rated horses in the world: George Washington, Bernardini, and Lava Man.

Those three, along with Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rail Link, sit atop the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities's list of the world's leading horses through Oct. 6, with mutual ratings of 127.

In opting for the Classic, George Washington is taking a pass on the Mile, a distance on turf at which he has won the 2000 Guineas and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes this year. The Classic will be George Washington's first start on dirt. He did work on the Polytrack course at O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard last Friday, and O'Brien said he was pleased with the move.

Meanwhile, defending Breeders' Cup Turf champion Shirocco has been ruled out of the Turf. Owned by German Baron George von Ullmann, Shirocco is in the process of being sold to Sheikh Mohammed for stud duty at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket. Trained at 2 and 3 by Andreas Schutz, Shirocco disappointed in his final outing for Andre Fabre on Oct. 1, when he finished eighth and last in the Arc. During a career in which he won the German Derby, the Gran Premio del Jockey Club, the BC Turf, and the Coronation Cup, Shirocco won 7 of 13 starts for earnings of $2,477,488.

Japan: Upset ends Triple Crown bid

Son of Wind spoiled Meisho Samson's bid for the Japanese Triple Crown at Kyoto on Sunday, when he pulled a 43-1 upset of the $2.2 million Kikuka Sho, or Japanese St. Leger.

Trained by Hidekazu Asami and ridden by Yutaka Take's younger brother Koshiro, Son of Wind prevailed by a neck over Dream Passport. Yutaka Take rode Admire Main, who set the pace and was clear by 10 lengths at one point but faded to third, 1 3/4 lengths farther behind.

Sent off as the even-money choice, Meisho Samson was fourth much of the way before challenging Dream Passport at the quarter pole. He was unable to sustain his run, however, and finished fourth, 4 1/2 lengths behind Son of Wind. The winning time for 1 7/8 miles was a track record 3:02.70.

France: Montare edges Ballamy Cay

George Strawbridge continued his brilliant run in France at Longchamp on Sunday, when Montare scored a game neck victory over Ballamy Cay in the $313,000 Prix Royal-Oak, or French St. Leger. Trained by Jonathan Pease and ridden by Olivier Peslier, Montare finished the 1 15/16 miles in 3:20.30 on good ground.

Montare has been a model of consistency all year, if a bit unlucky. Before her win in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu against fillies and mares on Sept. 30 at Longchamp, she had been second in three Group 2 races - the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier, the Prix Maurice de Nieuil, and the Prix de Pomone - and was also second in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille. Last year, she defeated older colts when she won the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris at 1 1/2 miles.

Strawbridge, who is based in Pennsylvania, also won Oct. 14 at Newmarket, where his Sleeping Indian took the seven-furlong Challenge Stakes.