07/03/2001 11:00PM

Dreaming of Galileo-Point Given


ELMONT, N.Y. - The most exciting event in American racing last year was the Breeders' Cup Classic, in which the late-developing 3-year-old Tiznow stood off a spectacular challenge by Europe's leading 3-year-old, Giant's Causeway, to win in a photo.

We could have a reprise this fall for the Breeders' Cup Classic is on the schedule trainer Aidan O' Brien has mapped out for the brilliant Galileo, winner of the Epsom Derby and the more recent Irish Derby

"It is a long ways off," O'Brien said the other day from his yard in County Tipperary. "But it would be great fun to come over again, particularly since you have some outstanding 3-year-olds."

O'Brien leaves no doubt how he regards Galileo, the Sadler's Wells colt who is the toast of Europe.

"He is a very solid horse who has speed and can quicken," the trainer said. "The Irish Derby was a genuine race and he won it nicely."

How does Galileo stack up with Giant's Causeway at this point?

"Galileo is undefeated," O'Brien responded, and couldn't have said more.

Galileo's brilliant campaign has not gone unnoticed over here.

"He must be a good horse to do the things he's done," Bob Baffert said from Hollywood Park. "The Breeders' Cup Classic is a long ways off but it could come up that way."

Baffert has the impressive Preakness and Belmont winner, Point Given, back in training again following a well-deserved post-classic holiday, and he expects to breeze the colt next week. The immediate goal, if all goes well, is the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 5. "He may not have a lot of racing before the Breeders' Cup," Baffert said.

"We'd like him to come to the Classic as fresh as possible."

Older horses still have an edge in the Classic. Of the 17 Breeders' Cup Classics that have been run, older horses won 10 times. The 3-year-old winners were Proud Truth, Sunday Silence, Unbridled, A.P. Indy, Concern, Cat Thief, and Tiznow. Louis Quatorze was beaten only a nose in 1996, and Alysheba lost by the same margin in 1987. By the time of the Breeders' Cup, the 3-year-olds have generally caught up with their elders. In some instances they have passed them.