10/10/2007 11:00PM

Dylan Thomas out to write history

Frank Sorge/Horsephotos
Dylan Thomas, with Kieren Fallon, will try to become the first Arc winner to take the Breeders' Cup Turf. Fallon, however, will not be aboard.
Dylan Thomas's dramatic victory in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the announcement that he will travel to Monmouth Park for the Breeders' Cup Turf was pleasing news for everyone with an interest in racing.

A member of the last crop of the great Danehill, Dylan Thomas will be expected to end the history-long schneid of Arc winners who have failed to win the Turf. Four have tried and four have failed, while four other Arc winners have tried the Turf a year later, and all of them failed as well.

In his post-Arc interview, trainer Aidan O'Brien implied that the Turf has been on Dylan Thomas's agenda all along, so perhaps he will not be over the top like Dancing Brave, Saumarez, and Subotica, the three Arc winners who failed to make the top three in the Turf. While he didn't run as well Sunday as he did when winning the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by four lengths at Ascot on July 28, Dylan Thomas still rates as the best horse in the world going 1 1/2 miles. O'Brien has also said that he is better on left-handed courses, like Monmouth and Leopardstown, where he won the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 9, than he is on right-handed tracks like Longchamp.

Dylan Thomas will have a rider change for the Turf, as Kieren Fallon, on trial in London for race fixing, has been banned from riding in America for the forseeable future. O'Brien will probably replace him with Johnny Murtagh, who rode Dylan Thomas to victory in the King George.

It may have been the slight give in the ground that impelled the Racing Post to give Dylan Thomas a 127 rating for his Arc triumph. That is 4 pounds less than his King George Racing Post Rating. By comparison, the leading American Breeders' Cup Turf candidate, English Channel, was awarded a mere 117 for his Joe Hirsch Turf Classic victory (Beyer Speed Figure of 106) and has never received a Racing Post Rating better than 122 (his best Beyer is 108).

One advantage English Channel will have over Dylan Thomas is his experience at Monmouth Park. A Smart Strike 5-year-old, English Channel has won the last two runnings of the 1 3/8-mile United Nations Stakes at the New Jersey track, so he should feel right at home around Monmouth's tight turns and short straights.

The configuration of the Monmouth turf course could be the reason why we may see an unusually small number of European horses in the Cup turf races. One who is coming is defending champ Red Rocks, and although his form is so-so this year - a win in the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes in April followed by fourth-place finishes in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Dylan Thomas was second) and the Irish Champion Stakes (Dylan Thomas was first) - he will be stepping back up to his best distance in the Turf. Brian Meehan is bullish about the Galileo 4-year-old's chances.

"He's ready for the race," the trainer said, in hopes that all Red Rocks needs is a return to the American scene.

The Tin Man is described as "50-50" for the Turf by trainer Richard Mandella. The Tin Man was second to Artiste Royal in the Clement Hirsh at Santa Anita last Saturday.

"The Turf may also come up a little too soon after the Clement Hirsch," he said.

Artiste Royal's connections are angling for an invitation to the Hong Kong Cup. Better Talk Now, absent since July 7, is leaning to the Turf, but Bowling Green Handicap winner Sunriver and a number of Europeans, like Quijano, Oracle West, Ask, and Irish Wells, are opting for the Canadian International on Oct. 21. Trainer Richard Gibson, however, is torn between Woodbine and Monmouth for his Man o' War winner Doctor Dino.

The nominating fees for that race and the E.P. Taylor are minimal compared to the Breeders' Cup, but more importantly, Canadian International and E.P. Taylor horses have their travel expenses subsidized, making Woodbine, with its long stretch and mild turns, an attractive alternative to the Breeders' Cup for Europeans this year.