10/27/2007 12:00AM

English Channel raises; Dylan Thomas folds

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - English Channel finally broke through and won the big one, capturing the Breeders' Cup Turf in his third try, while international star Dylan Thomas floundered home a distant fifth while racing on a soft turf course he clearly hated.

Fifth in the Turf as a 3-year-old in 2005, English Channel improved to third in last year's edition, and Saturday, in his career finale, he left no doubt which horse was best on the day. Perfectly placed just off a slow pace by jockey John Velazquez, English Channel seized control of the race turning into the stretch, and was all alone at the finish, winning off by seven lengths. That equaled the fifth-largest margin of victory in any Breeders' Cup race, and was much greater than in any other turf race in BC history.

The victory gave Pletcher his fourth BC winner from 48 starters, and was his first Saturday after seven defeats. It also handed a gratifying win to owner James Scatuorchio, a resident of Rumson, N.J., a town just a few miles north of Monmouth.

"I couldn't have scripted it any better," said Scatuorchio. "That's what you dream about."

Dylan Thomas's experience, on the other hand, was a nightmare, and continued the hapless history of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winners in the BC Turf; all 10 that have run here have lost. Dylan Thomas won the Arc three weeks ago on a turf course supposedly softer than the type he prefers, but the grass at Monmouth was much softer still, and it rendered Dylan Thomas helpless. Sixth in the early going, Dylan Thomas came under a hard ride from Johnny Murtagh more than a half-mile from the finish, with Murtagh whipping the horse several times to try and get him into contention.

"I just wanted to give him a smack to try and get him into the bridle again, to give him a chance, but he couldn't do it," Murtagh said.

Dylan Thomas went off the most heavily favored runner of the day at odds of 4-5. English Channel was the solid second choice at 3-1, and paid $8 to win. He was timed in 2:36.96 for the 1 1/2 miles. The 25-1 shot Shamdinan raced in second virtually the entire race, and was three-quarters of a length better than last year's winner Red Rocks, who checked in third.

"He was struggling down on the inside, so I took him outside, and he was struggling there," said Red Rocks's jockey, Frankie Dettori.

Behind Red Rocks came Better Talk Now, who was fourth in this fourth BC Turf appearance. Grand Couturier, Fri Guy, and Transduction Gold completed the order of finish.

Shamdinan was the surprise early leader, but Fri Guy soon came through on the inside to take control, setting pedestrian fractions of 26.07 for the opening quarter-mile, 53.20 for the half, and 1:19.91 for three quarters. Velazquez, who said he had a perfect trip, sent English Channel to the lead with about a quarter-mile to go, and the 2007 Turf was all over.

English Channel's victory gave U.S.-based horses a clean sweep of the Breeders' Cup turf races this year.