10/06/2007 11:00PM

Dylan Thomas survives lengthy Arc inquiry

EmailPARIS - Kieren Fallon, who always seems to find himself at the center of one controversy or another, extricated himself from a hornets nest of incidents to emerge victorious aboard Dylan Thomas in the $2.8 million Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.

Dylan Thomas and his beleaugered Irish rider held on gamely to repel a storming late run from Youmzain to win Europe's most coveted prize by a head, but then had to survive a lengthy 45-minute inquiry before trainer Aidan O'Brien and owners Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor were allowed into the winners' circle. The reasons for the delay were the bumps Dylan Thomas had given first Zambezi Sun in mid-stretch and then stablemate and entrymate Soldier of Fortune as he took the lead at the furlong pole, drifting in all the time.

'Dylan' went quickly clear but was all out to hold off Youmzain as Sagara came form last to take third by a half length from the stayer Getaway. Soldier of Fortune, who was losing for the first time in three tries at 1 1/2 miles, faded to fifth, just 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

The agonizing wait as the very deliberate French stewards tired to make up their minds centered on whether Dylan Thomas's interference had deprived Zambezi Sun and Soldier of Fortune of their best possible placings. Ultimately they decided in the negative, and so Dylan Thomas was able to provide O'Brien with his first Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory. The winning time for the 4-year-old son of Danehill was 2:28.50 on good to soft ground that had very likely dried out to good by post time for the Arc. Once presented with the trophy, O'Brien was pleased to announce that Dylan Thomas will travel to Monmouth Park for the Breeders' Cup Turf, a race he won twice with High Chaparral.

'Dylan' had produced the world's best performance at 1 1/2 miles this year with a big effort in Ascot's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 28 when Youmzain had been 4 lengths behind in second. He had most recently shown his aptitude for 1 1/4 miles with a win in the Irish Champion Stakes, and while the retired Manduro may still have an argument with him for the overall European championship, there is no doubt that Dylan Thomas rates as the world number one at 12 furlongs.

The disappointment of the race was Authorized. The Epsom Derby winner had beaten Dylan Thomas in the Juddmonte International Stakes but did no running whatsoever on Sunday. He could not even use his wide draw in 12 as an excuse as he lagged behind early and only passed the tiring Balldoyle pacesetters Yellowstone and Song of Hiawatha in finishing tenth, 10-1/4 length behind Dylan Thomas.

A long wait for the official result is not unusual in France. On July 14 in the Grand Prix de Paris, there was a similar delay when Zambezi Sun and his Arc rider Stephane Pasquier caused an incident in which Fallon was thrown from Eagle Mountain on the Longchamp backstretch. Zambezi Sun went on to score a 5-length victory that day, but the official result wasn't announced until after the conclusion of the next race.

Ironically it was Pasquier who may have swayed the judges decision on Sunday.

"Stephane helped me in the stewards' room," Fallon revealed as he made his way to the winners' circle. "He backed me up. I was very worried but the boys backed me up."

The happy result for Dylan Thomas, who started at 5-2 as part of the 4-horse Ballydoyle entry, means that Fallon, who is currently on trial in London on race fixing charges, has one less thing to worry about, although he could still face a suspension for his winning, nervewracking ride aboard the Arc champion. He will not, however, be allowed to ride Dylan Thomas at Monmouth, because the suspension of his license in Britain is being adhered to by the American authorities. It is likely that O'Brien will employ Johnny Murtagh at Monmouth as 'Dylan' attempts to become the first Arc winner to double up in the Breeders' Cup Turf.