10/24/2007 11:00PM

Few Europeans make the trip

EmailDylan Thomas is the star attraction among a surprisingly small group of European invaders at this year's Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park, where only 12 foreign-trained horses will line up this weekend. With three of those slated for the new Juvenile Turf on Friday, that means just nine foreigners will go in the eight older races, equaling the record for the smallest number since nine went in the 1997 Cup at Hollywood Park.

The reasons for the disappointing turnout are twofold. First is the international competition. Between early October and early December, the Breeders' Cup competes with Arc Weekend at Longchamp; Champions Day at Newmarket; Canadian International Day at Woodbine; Australia's Spring Carnival at Caulfield, Moonee Valley, and Flemington; Japan Cup Weekend at Tokyo; and Hong Kong International Day at Sha Tin. There are 23 Group 1 races run at these tracks during that time, almost all of which serve as well as the Breeders' Cup as season-ending championship events.

The second reason is the nature of Monmouth Park. Tight turns, a painfully short stretch, and a bandbox seven-furlong turf course are not conducive to the running styles of most European-trained horses. That there are no French horses at Monmouth Park this weekend is an embarrassment for Breeders' Cup Ltd., one that helps to expose its claim that the Cup is a “world championship.”

Here follows an analysis of the foreign raiders who will storm Monmouth Park on Saturday.

Classic: Last year's Classic sixth-place finisher will be tried once again on dirt by Magnier, Tabor, O'Brien, and company. In search of an improbable Grade 1 victory on that surface, the Classic will be the latest stop on George Washington's strange 4-year-old odyssey, which began in the breeding shed and has included a good third in the Eclipse Stakes in which he didn't quite last the Classic's distance of 10 furlongs. A high-strung son of Danehill who frequently gives trouble during the preliminaries, he will not be suited by Monmouth's close and crowded paddock scene. The tight one-mile Monmouth oval will also work against this two-time European champion, who is frequently asked to do things beyond his considerable abilities.

Turf: Dylan Thomas arrives at Monmouth as the most highly decorated horse in the world this year. His dramatic victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was his fourth Group 1 win this season and sixth overall. The Danehill

4-year-old also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which means he is the author of the two best performances at 1 1/2 miles in 2007. That no Arc winner has ever won the Turf is of less concern than his ability to handle the tight Monmouth turf course. Dylan Thomas is, however, an athletic individual who thrives on racing and loves a good fight. On paper, only English Channel has any kind of chance to beat him. O'Brien saddles Dylan Thomas in search of a third Turf triumph, one that would make Dylan Thomas the first winner of an extraordinary King George-Arc-BC Turf triple.

Brian Meehan has been preparing defending champ Red Rocks for this race all year, but the Galileo 4-year-old has twice finished behind Dylan Thomas this year, the last time by six lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes. Like Dylan Thomas, he prefers 1 1/2 miles, but his form is indifferent this year. That said, he showed vastly improved form when winning last year's Turf at a similarly configured Churchill Downs. Youmzain may be a touchstone here. He beat Red Rocks by a head in the Great Voltigeur Stakes last year and was just a head second to Dylan Thomas in the Arc, but the feeling is that Dylan Thomas is four or five lengths better than Red Rocks.

Mile: Excellent Art's narrow loss in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last time not only doesn't work against him, it may be in his favor. No QEII winner has ever won the Mile, but a famous QEII runner-up, Miesque, did land the Mile a few weeks later in 1987. By the much underrated sire (at least in America) Pivotal, Excellent Art is a highly consistent miler who had the speed to win the six-furlong Mill Reef Stakes at 2. Lightly raced, he appears to be sitting on a big race for Aidan O'Brien but must overcome a terrible post. He wouldn't mind if the turf were soft.

At his best, Jeremy is just a cut behind Excellent Art. His recent seventh in the Prix de la Foret was due to the soft ground. Trained by Michael Stoute, he should be used in the exotics if the ground is good or firm.

Filly and Mare Turf: Seriously considered for the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 20, Passage of Time has been wisely rerouted by Henry Cecil to this easier race. While the Dansili filly has yet to live up to the high expectations hinted at in her victory over colts last year in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, her third-place finish in the Prix Vermeille last time was a vast improvement. Furthermore, the Vermeille became a key race Sunday when its winner, Mrs. Lindsay, won the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine and its sixth-place finisher, Montare, beat males in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris.

Simply Perfect is a Group 1 winner going a mile but is likely to find this 1 3/8 miles too long. The O'Brien entry, All My Loving, is a full sister to Group 1 winners Yesterday and Quarter Moon, and has been banging on the door all year. She should be banging again here but not hard enough to win. Timarwa finally appeared to get the knack of things last time when winning a Group 3 at Gowran Park for trainer John Oxx and the Aga Khan. An improving sort by Daylami out of three-time Group 1 and E.P. Taylor winner Timarida, she looks like the Filly and Mare Turf dark horse.

All My Loving, Timarwa, and Passage of Time will all appreciate 1 3/8 miles more than their American rivals save Honey Ryder, who should be accorded a chance.