09/22/2009 11:00PM

Gosden getting ready for his encore


John Gosden did not exactly sneak into town last fall for the Breeders' Cup. When you're 6-foot-4 and possessed of a booming, BBC baritone that can be heard, without amplification, all the way to the back row, heads tend to turn. The fact that he escaped with the biggest prize of all also left an impression.

Gosden's victory with Raven's Pass in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic was one of those watershed moments that has come to signify considerably more than can be rationally justified. In its immediate aftermath, the Classic result was held in some quarters as proof beyond doubt that the synthetic surface at Santa Anita favored European grass horses and relegated the American champion Curlin to a wheel-spinning fourth. Later on, the ground was used as an excuse by Curlin's owner, Jess Jackson, to rule out participation in the 2009 Breeders' Cup during the Oak Tree meet for his star filly, Rachel Alexandra.

Gosden did concede that Raven's Pass would not have run in the Classic on a dirt surface. This has nothing to do with the fact that his colt still had to run the race of his life to defeat his Irish nemesis, Henrythenavigator, and the admirable third-place finisher Tiago.

Still, the one-two Euro sweep brought trauma to some of the flag-wavers in the crowd who forgot that horse racing, thank goodness, is a truly international endeavor. Anyway, Breeders' Cup Classic history already was replete with good races by European runners. Giant's Causeway, Sakhee, Ibn Bey, and Swain all were noble in narrow defeats. And never forget Arcangues, who won the 1993 Classic at 133-1. On dirt. At Santa Anita.

As for Jess Jackson's reasoning for not running America's favorite Thoroughbred in America's hallmark post-season event, well, let's just say he could have opted for a more diplomatic tack. Instead, he chose to denigrate the synthetic surface at Santa Anita without practical evidence - beyond his best horse getting beat.

Meanwhile, back at Newmarket's Camp Gosden, tall John is preparing a pair of entertaining mares for another California Breeders' Cup invasion. The event is two weeks later than last year's, and things can change overnight, especially with European runners who have been training and racing since early spring. But if Gosden shows up with Rainbow View and Dar Re Mi, attention must be paid.

Dar Re Mi is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd-Weber and his wife, the former Madeleine Gurdon. They go by Lord and Lady Lloyd-Weber these days, but that did not matter at all at Longchamp last weekend when Dar Re Mi was disqualified from victory in the prestigious Prix Vermeille.

"They handed us a pretty ghastly decision," Gosden said. "After that, anything's possible. The pacemaker was on the rail, and everyone was shaping to go around. Then the jock on the pacemaker's stablemate shouted for the pacemaker to move off the rail so he could come through. Now everyone has to move back to the right, because the pacemaker was going to stop in front of them. When we moved back we did not touch, but we caused the German filly on the inside also to move to the right. They said that move caused the German filly to possibly lose fourth place, and therefore we had to be put behind her. It was a bizarre decision, and a Draconian implementation of a rule. It wouldn't have happened anywhere else in the world."

The crowd agreed. Despite the sight of their French betting favorite elevated to the win, Longchamp rang with catcalls, boos, and whistles. It was music to Gosden's disappointed ears, and he may go back for more.

"There's every possibility she will run in the Arc, then we'll see about the Breeders' Cup," he said. "She could run in either of the long grass races against colts or fillies."

Rainbow View, owned by George Strawbridge, was England's 2-year-old filly champion of 2008 and nearly made it to the Breeders' Cup last year. Then she sprouted a hair coat like a grizzly, so Gosden chose to put her away for the winter. She emerged this year running hard against the very best, but like so many brilliant 2-year-olds, her contemporaries had closed the gap. After some heartbreakers in top company, Rainbow View did not win her first race as a 3-year-old until the Matron Stakes at Ireland's Leopardstown on Sept. 5.

For the Matron, run at a mile, Gosden fitted Rainbow View with what can only be described as cheek-warmers.

"They were just little cheat pieces to help her concentrate, just pieces of sheepskin on the side of the bridle," Gosden explained. "It seemed to help. We'd spent quite a bit of time getting her to relax, and now she's gone to the other end of the personality range and tends to get a bit bored with things."

The $2 million Ladies' Classic on Nov. 6 would be Rainbow View's most likely target.

"Is Zenyatta running there?" Gosden asked. "Well, we wouldn't be frightened to run against her. Our filly will love that surface."

Uh-oh, here we go again.