08/27/2009 11:00PM

Fall paths will lead many Europeans to the Cup


September is upon us, and trainers around the world are beginning to think of where best to send their horses to achieve champion laurels.

The Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita is but one of many possibilities for European trainers, although it should be a port of first call for many this year, given the success they had at Santa Anita last year. Expect a higher than usual number of European invaders on Nov. 6 and 7, with a marked increase in the races on the Pro-Ride all-weather surface.

William Hill has already opened a book on the Breeders' Cup Turf. Not surprisingly, it does not include Sea the Stars who, in the outside chance that he does wind up at Santa Anita, would go in the Classic. The hunch is that Aidan O'Brien is thinking Classic with his one-mile Sussex Stakes winner Rip Van Winkle, who is being pointed at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the race in which the first two finishers last year, Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator, finished one-two in the Classic. Mastercraftsman, second to Sea the Stars in the Juddmonte International, could also be a Classic possibility.

Hills lists O'Brien's Irish Derby winner Fame and Glory as its 9-4 BC Turf favorite, but first he has tentative dates with Sea the Stars in the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The defending Turf title-holder, Conduit, also aiming at the Arc, is 3-1, while America's favorite, Gio Ponti, is 9-2. The undefeated French Oaks winner Stacelita, headed to the Prix Vermeille and the Arc, is 7-1. In fact, nine of Hills first 11 favorites for the Turf are trained in Europe, with only Gio Ponti and Just as Well (14-1) cracking the list.

Goldikova will use the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret on Oct. 3 as her Breeders' Cup Mile prep. Attention should also be paid to all of the remaining juvenile group races on the European schedule, as well as the Goffs Million at the Curragh on Sept. 27, as there are four 2-year-old races from which to choose at Santa Anita.