10/17/2007 12:00AM

Dylan Thomas down to even money at English bookmaker

EmailHaving established himself as the best 12-furlong horse in the world with victories in Europe's two most prestigious 1 1/2-mile races, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Dylan Thomas should go off as a strong favorite in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Twelve were pre-entered on Monday for the Turf, so no horse will be excluded. Honey Ryder has also been pre-entered in the Filly and Mare Turf, which is her first preference.

Admirably consistent, Dylan Thomas has finished first or second in his seven Group 1 races this year, winning four of them. His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, has won the Turf twice with High Chaparral. Dylan Thomas acts on any ground, from good to soft to firm, although he would prefer it good to firm. Dylan Thomas thrives on hard work, so the eight races he has had this year should not be a drawback. Neither will the absence of jockey Kieren Fallon harm his chances, as Johnny Murtagh, who rode him in his King George triumph, is a most accomplished replacement.

Who is good enough to beat him? The great American hope English Channel is a two-time Grade 1 winner himself this season and loves Monmouth Park, having taken the last two runnings of the 1 3/8-mile United Nations Stakes there. That could be a big advantage for English Channel, a Smart Strike 5-year-old.

Defending champ Red Rocks has disappointed since taking the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes in April. He is a fresh horse but has six lengths to make up on Dylan Thomas off his fourth-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes. He has, however, been pointed to the Turf all year, and his form going into last year's Turf wasn't much better than his form this year.

Better Talk Now would be an improbable winner off an injury-induced 3 1/2-month absence, while Shamdinan seems to have lost the thread since leaving trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. Champs Elysees, a full brother to the 2001 Filly and Mare Turf winner Banks Hill and to the race's 2005 winner Intercontinental, is a long-striding, one-paced thing who will not like Monmouth's tight turns and short stretch. Sunriver must avoid an early duel with the outclassed Fri Guy. Grand Couturier is a danger off his winning Sword Dancer form, although the six pounds he was getting that day from the runner-up, English Channel, makes him suspect at equal weights.

In England, bookmaker William Hill seems to think Dylan Thomas is unbeatable. He has been bet down to even-money favoritism, and that is real money, not morning-line guesswork. Hill's offers English Channel at 5-1, but the two favorites are probably much closer than that.