10/24/2003 11:00PM

Favored Islington makes amends

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Michael Stoute fretted all week about what effects the long trip and unseasonably warm weather might have on his filly Islington on Breeders' Cup Day. But those fears proved unfounded after Islington led a one, two, three finish for the European invaders with a hard fought triumph over trainer Aidan O'Brien's pair uncoupled of L'Ancresse and Yesterday in Saturday's $1,060,000 Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

The victory also provided a measure of vindication for jockey Kieren Fallon, who rode Islington to a troubled third place finish in the 2002 Filly and Mare Turf.

Islington was the second of three European winners on Saturday's eight-race World Thoroughbred Championship program. Six Perfections won the Mile and High Chaparral finished in a dead heat for win with Falbrov in the Turf.

"Other than the French, none of the European horses have done well in the past in California. I'm glad we're finally learning how to do it," said Stoute, who trains the Irish-bred and -based Islington for the estate of the late Lord Weinstock. "The loss last year was nobody's fault. She got knocked off her feet after the start and was six slots further back than we wanted right from the beginning."

Fallon had no such problems getting good early position with Islington on Saturday. He placed his filly along the inside among the second flight of horses, chasing Bien Nicole, who opened up a long early lead while setting extremely fast fractions. After having to wait briefly for an opening around the final bend, Islington burst quickly from between horses to go after the 45-1 L'Ancresse, who had caught the weary leader and forged to a short advantage in early stretch.

L'Ancresse dug in gamely when challenged by Islington, but the 5-3 favorite Islington asserted her superiority in deep stretch to prevail by a neck under a furious ride by Fallon. Yesterday raced near the back of the pack for more than six furlongs then finished well enough to outlast Heat Haze, the best U.S. finisher, by

Voodoo Dancer, Tates Creek, Bien Nicole, Mezzo Soprano, Musical Chimes, and Dimitrova rounded out the complete order of finish.

Islington covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.13 seconds over the firm course and paid $7.80.

"Last year I got knocked over by one of our own riders, got too far back and the trip didn't suit," said Fallon. "Today I got the position I wanted around the first turn and got my filly to relax. I was very confident going into the race because I knew I had the best horse, and I was a little surprised it took me so long to get by L'Ancresse."