10/08/2003 11:00PM

Falbrav being considered for Breeders' Cup Classic


The connections of Falbrav for the past 10 days have been privately kicking around the idea of running in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic rather than the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. They went public with it on Thursday, but maintained the Turf is still the first, and most likely, choice.

The number of confirmed runners for the Classic did increase by one on Thursday with the addition of Evening Attire, the 2002 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, who had previously been considered only possible. The 3-year-old Dynever, second against older horses in the Meadowlands Cup in his last start, is now probable for the race after being only possible previously.

The renewed interest in the Classic has been sparked by the absence of Mineshaft, who was retired last week following his victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Such top runners as Candy Ride, Empire Maker, and Funny Cide are also absent from the Classic.

Falbrav most recently captured the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, his sixth Group 1 victory. He has never raced on dirt, making the Classic a curious choice for trainer Luca Cumani and owners Scuderia Rencati and Teruya Yoshida. Eugenio Colombo, the California-based bloodstock agent who brokered the partial sale of Falbrav to Yoshida, said the Classic has been discussed by Cumani and the owners, but they are far from abandoning the Turf for the Classic. Cumani had a similar take on the situation.

"The Turf is still our first choice, but we are talking about the Classic," Cumani said from Great Britain. "It would be taking a big chance, but a victory in the Classic would give him a big boost as a stallion prospect."

Falbrav, who won last year's Japan Cup, is scheduled to be retired to stud duty in Japan at year's end.

Regardless of which race Falbrav runs in, he will need to be supplemented, because he was not nominated to the Breeders' Cup. It will cost him $180,000 to run in the Turf, or $360,000 to run in the Classic.

Evening Attire, who was third in this year's Jockey Club Gold Cup behind Mineshaft and Quest, is definitely in. The Classic will be his first start at Santa Anita.

"If he likes it, he likes it, but at least he deserves a chance," said his trainer, Pat Kelly. "I'm sure a bunch of us are doing the same thing now that Mineshaft is out."

Dynever will go to California "unless the horse disappoints me in a workout on Monday," said his trainer, Christophe Clement.

"I know it's a bit ambitious, but he's a nice horse, and I think he'll do well at that time of year," Clement said.

The field for the Classic now includes Congaree, Evening Attire, Fleetstreet Dancer, Hold That Tiger, Medaglia d'Oro, Perfect Drift, Pleasantly Perfect, Ten Most Wanted, and Volponi. Bowman's Band, Dynever, and Tenpins are probable. Aeneas, Falbrav, and Weightless are possible.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Alan Shuback