10/28/2009 12:00AM

Conduit leads trio of British standouts


Thanks be to trainer Michael Stoute and owner Andrew Lloyd-Webber, for without their support this year s Breeders Cup Turf would have the look of a good Grade 2 race. The presence of the Stoute-trained pair of the defending champ, Conduit, and Spanish Moon, along with Lloyd-Webber s John Gosden-trained Dar Re Mi redeems this edition of the Turf. The outcome of the race is very much in their hands.

With Summer Bird sure to take his preferred spot in the Classic, only two of the Turf s American entries, Presious Passion and Telling, are in possession of Grade 1 laurels. Presious Passion s trio of victories at that level came at the expense of Grade 2 winners Medici Code, Lauro, and Strike a Deal. Telling s win in the Sword Dancer was his first in 14 months. The runner-up that day, now-retired Better Talk Now, had not won a race since taking the Manhattan Handicap in June 2007. The British trio will offer the two best Yanks a much tougher test than anything they have ever encountered.

The speed-mad Presious Passion folded when challenged by Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million in August. Gio Ponti won the race, but finished just 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Group 3 type Stotsfold, who was third. Presious Passion finished eighth. Telling, who was 1 3/4 lengths behind runner-up Gio Ponti when third in the Turf Classic, appears to be overmatched.

Last year Conduit took the unusual route of prepping for the Turf with a victory in the St. Leger Stakes, which at 1 3/4 miles, 132 yards hardly looks like a Turf trial. Yet he won the Turf going away. This year he appears to have used the Prix de l Arc de Triomphe as a Turf prep. The Arc was his first outing since he had won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25. He could not have been expected to win any Arc, much less one with Sea the Stars in the field, off a 10-week absence. Take Sea the Stars out of the Arc, and Conduit finishes just a pair of heads behind three-time Arc runner-up Youmzain and the talented, still-improving 3-year-old Cavalryman.

That is quite an accomplishment and it sets Conduit up perfectly for the Turf. His stablemate Spanish Moon arrives at Santa Anita fresh, with just three races under his belt this year. Dar Re Mi would have completed a Group 1 triple but for her disqualification from the Prix Vermeille. A British trifecta could be in the Turf works.