10/11/2007 11:00PM

Dylan Thomas bucking history in BC Turf

EmailNEW YORK - Dylan Thomas will arrive at Monmouth Park later this month as the likely favorite for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Historically speaking, however, as the winner of Europe's most important race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, he has no chance of winning.

That is because no Arc winner has ever won the Breeders' Cup Turf. Dancing Brave, Trempolino, Saumarez, and Subotica have all come, they have all seen and been seen, and they have all failed to conquer. Trempolino came closest, losing in a stretch-long duel with Theatrical in 1987. Even when an Arc winner tries the Turf the year after his Arc triumph, he cannot win. Carnegie, Montjeu, Bago, and Hurricane Run all have failed taking that route. Only one from that group, Carnegie, finished in the money, running third.

Conventional wisdom dictates that a horse that wins the Arc has done so because he has been pointed to that race since midsummer and that the effort required to win puts him over the top before he reaches the Breeders' Cup. The records of recent Arc winners who didn't try the Turf in their victorious Arc years tends to bear this theory out. The winners of the last five Arcs prior to Dylan Thomas - Rail Link, Hurricane Run, Bago, Dalakhani, and Marienbard - have all been put away for the season immediately after their Arc victories.

So what makes anyone think that Dylan Thomas will succeed in becoming the first horse to land the Arc-Turf double at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27?

Well, first, the 4-year-old Danehill colt is trained by Aidan O'Brien, a man who has a most enviable record in the Turf. The master of Ballydoyle has 2 firsts, 2 seconds, and 1 third from 6 starts in America's most prestigious turf race. Both of his wins are by High Chaparral.

The occasion demands comparisons between him and Dylan Thomas. Did High Chaparral win the two BC Turfs because, having finished third in the Arc in both years - conversely to previous Arc winners who subsequently failed in the Turf - he had not yet reached his peak? And will Dylan Thomas fail in the Turf for the same reason, that he has already peaked? The answer to the first question may be yes; and to the second, probably no.

O'Brien and his Coolmore bosses, John Magnier and Michael Tabor, do not enter a horse in the Arc as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Their business is winning Group 1 races, so it is reasonable to believe that High Chaparral was giving just as much of himself in his Arc thirds as he was in his Turf victories. The Arc is a tougher race than the Turf, and High Chaparral just wasn't as good as Marienbard, Sulamani, Dalakhani and Mubtaker, the horses who beat him at Longchamp.

As for Dylan Thomas, he appears to thrive on racing. The Arc was his seventh start this season, and while he didn't run quite as well as he did when winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 28, that may have been because of the slight give in the ground at Longchamp on Sunday. It is possible that Dylan Thomas may be at his best on truly firm ground, footing he has yet to encounter on the racecourse but something he has a good chance of getting at Monmouth for the Turf. If it rains on the Jersey Shore around race time, however, his chances may be compromised, as would those of many others in the Turf.

Dylan Thomas is also at his best going 1 1/2 miles, the Turf distance, as he showed in becoming the first horse since Lammtarra in 1995 to pull off the King George-Arc double. Don't bet against him becoming the first horse to win the King George-Arc-BC Turf triple.

Another horse Dylan Thomas resembles is Pilsudski, one of six Arc losers who won the Turf in their next start. Like Dylan Thomas, Pilsudski was a muscular, solidly built horse and thrived on racing. He was the 1996 Arc runner-up, then followed with a BC Turf victory at the surprisingly high odds of 13-1.

Five of the last 11 BC Turfs were won by Arc runners who failed to make the winner's circle at Longchamp. This may be the year when an Arc winner takes the Turf.