09/15/2005 11:00PM

Euros have depth, talent to dominate in Breeders' Cup


PHOENIX - News has come from Europe and it isn't good - at least for the Americans.

That's because this year's invading forces from Europe for the Breeders' Cup may well represent the deepest and strongest we've ever seen.

Although a lot of things can change in the meantime, and nothing is certain with six weeks until the big day on Oct. 29, most of Europe's top guns are casting an eye toward Belmont Park.

Such a raid has rarely happened. There have been strong invading forces to be sure. But most years that strength was led by one or two dominant Europeans and a number of strong second-stringers.

That may not be the case here. Just look at the Euros who have been mentioned as possible for the BC Turf:

* Powerscourt, dazzling winner of the Arlington Million.

* Grey Swallow, winner of the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup this year and Group 1 Irish Derby last year.

* Azamour, winner of the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and Group 1 Prince of Wales's this year, and the Group 1 St. James's Palace and Group 1 Irish Champion last year.

* Bago, winner of last year's Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and this year's Group 1 Prix Ganay.

* Alkaased, winner of this year's Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

* Electrocutionist, victorious in Italy's Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano and England's Group 1 Juddmonte International.

* Imperial Stride, winner of this year's Group 2 Scottish Derby (over Powerscourt) and Group 3 September Stakes.

Even Hurricane Run, winner of the Group 1 Irish Derby and early favorite for the Arc, has been mentioned as a possible invader. Now comes word that Motivator, the English Derby winner himself, is targeting next month's big day in New York as his career swan song.

Those eyeing the BC Mile are no less intimidating. Top milers Shamardal, Footstepsinthesand, and Divine Proportions are gone, but those remaining with the BC Mile in their sights are top-shelf regardless. Dubawi has emerged as Europe's top miler, with victories in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois.

Proclamation dazzled when winning the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, though he came back with a dull outing in Group 1 William Hill Sprint Cup. Not only was that sprint likely a bit short of his preferred distance, but he reportedly did not scope cleanly after the race, which could also explain his lackluster finish.

Rakti may be the best of them all. He is capable of freaky-big outings, as evidenced by his monster wins in races such as the Group 1 Juddmonte Lockinge this year and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II and Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes last season. Group 1-proven runners such as Valixir and Whipper add to the depth.

Of course, neither race is just to be given to the Euros. The Americans have some strong hands as well. Defending Turf winner Better Talk Now, reigning Eclipse champ Kitten's Joy, and unbeaten upstart Shakespeare lie in wait. As far as the Mile goes, can the Euros handle Leroidesanimaux, easily the best American miler, who goes after his eighth straight win in Sunday's Grade 1 Atto Mile at Woodbine?

One European unknown is last year's BC Filly and Mare Turf winner, Ouija Board. She was so dominant last year but has raced only once this year, finishing last against males in early summer. She was found to have cracked a hoof, but upon closer examination was also found to have a stress fracture. She was to come back in the September Stakes earlier this month but did not scope cleanly. She was next to go in the Prix Vermeille, but she wasn't ready.

Now word comes that she may come to the U.S. for her BC Filly and Mare Turf prep - the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont on Oct. 1.

But even if all goes according to plan and she makes it to the Flower Bowl and then the Filly and Mare Turf, what kind of performance can she produce?

The landscape could change dramatically after Oct. 1, the day of the Arc and a number of other major European races. Plans change and injuries happen. But on paper there's little doubt that in six weeks American racing fans will be in for a treat - and American horsemen may well find themselves in a heap of trouble.