10/01/2008 12:00AM

Europe's best might run elsewhere


The Man o' War victory by Red Rocks, no better than a low-end Group 2 type in England, suggested that it might be difficult for an American-trained horse to win this year's Breeders' Cup Turf. Even with Red Rocks having become an "American horse" after he was switched from Brian Meehan's yard in Manton, England, to Mark Hennig's barn at Belmont, it is difficult to see an American landing the Turf if Europe sends over two or three of its best 1 1/2-mile types.

That is a big "if" more than a week before the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Canadian International. Zarkava, the 3-2 favorite in an Arc that looks to be rather subpar with the exception of her brilliant self, is not certain to travel to Santa Anita, whatever the Arc result. The Aga Khan retired Dalakhani after his 2003 Arc triomphe and he could do the same with Zarkava should she extend her unbeaten streak to seven next Sunday.

Even if Zarkava comes to Santa Anita, her lack of early speed in a three-turn Turf with a very short stretch might work against her. Ideally she needs a long stretch like those at Chantilly, where she won the French Oaks, or at Longchamp, the site of her Sept. 14 Prix Vermeille victory.

Adept at 1 1/2 miles, Soldier of Fortune seemed destined for great things when he won the Coronation Cup on June 6. In his next start, however, he was beaten by last year's Arc runner-up Youmzain in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on June 29. Last year's Irish Derby winner and Arc fifth-place finisher, Soldier of Fortune hasn't run since, making his appearance in the Arc look very much like a prep for the Turf and/or the Japan Cup.

Soldier of Fortune's Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Duke of Marmalade, a five-time Group 1 winner this year, among them a win in the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, has been mentioned as a Turf possibility, but is more likely to go in the Classic.

French Derby and Prix Niel winner Vision d'Etat and Youmzain are both possible for the Turf, but nothing will be decided until after the Arc. Last year's Grand Prix de Paris winner Zambezi Sun got back on track with a victory in the Prix Foy two Sundays ago. His trainer, Pascal Bary, is mulling both the Arc and the Canadian International, after which he could be Santa Anita-bound, especially since he is owned by Juddmonte Farms, an outfit that likes to be represented in the Breeders' Cup.

World traveler Doctor Dino is committed to the Canadian International. If some of the better Europeans show up for the Turf he would face a tough task at Santa Anita. If the best Euros go elsewhere or stay at home, he would be a perfect fit. Winchester, trained by Dermot Weld for Bert Firestone, may have been flattered when beating some pretty average types in Arlington's Secretariat Stakes. Like Red Rocks, High Chaparral and Powerscourt, he actually prefers American racing to that of Europe, but he is untested for class, 0 for 2 at 1 1/2 miles, and hasn't run since the Secretariat.

The problems concerning Red Rocks run more deeply than the 3 1/2-month layoff he will have had coming into the Turf. It is very difficult for a 5-year-old that has been trained for nearly four years in the European style to make a sudden transition to American-style training. That Red Rocks failed to make the lineup for both the Sword Dancer and the Turf Classic is an indication that he hasn't been responding to Hennig's ministrations.

Grand Couturier is probably a Saratoga specialist, Better Talk Now is winless for 16 months, and Dancing Forever finished behind them both in the Sword Dancer. Better Talk Now and Dancing Forever meet again in the Turf Classic on Saturday, when not a single European-trained horse will be present for Belmont's Breeders' Cup preview day. Del Mar Handicap and San Luis Obispo winner Spring House would enhance his Turf credentials with a win in Santa Anita's Clement Hirsch on Saturday.

Champs Elysees, whose long stride is suited to Woodbine's mild turns and 2 1/2-furlong stretch as he showed when winning the Northern Dancer, would be compromised by Santa Anita's tight turns and short stretch. One to keep in mind may be Ideal World. This lightly raced son of Kingmambo and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Banks Hill ran Vision d'Etat to a nose in the Prix Niel but will probably skip the Arc. Trained by Andre Fabre, he is a third Turf possible for Juddmonte along with Champs Elysees and Zambezi Sun.