10/23/2002 11:00PM

Handicappers' analysis of the Breeders' Cup Classic


Hawk Wing has emerged as one of the best horses in Europe with one-two finishes in all six of his Group 1 starts. Can he handle dirt? Before his 2002 debut in May, he worked on the all-weather Lingfield track and smoked around the layout. Bottom line? He's the best horse in a weak race.

Evening Attire has gotten good at the right time. He destroyed the Jockey Club Gold Cup field, has always had a touch of class, and has never been better. War Emblem is a potential pace play. He is faster than main pace foe E Dubai, and could get brave on the lead. Medaglia d'Oro is the fastest American horse, but does he have the class?

- Brad Free

Although he didn't set the pace, Came Home used more energy than usual to stay close to swift fractions in the Pacific Classic. It would have been understandable if he had faded late in that race. Instead, he outkicked his rivals to edge clear down the lane in an impressive triumph. The time off is a concern, but he has a strong work tab, and will offer a square price. If the fractions are lively, Evening Attire will be hard to contain during the final furlong. Anything higher than 6-1 would make him worth a bet. Medaglia d'Oro can win this with his best, but will be only an ordinary price as he returns from a two-month break. Milwaukee Brew is better than his last race shows and should not be overlooked.

- Steve Klein

The U.S. horses appeared more formidable the past two years, yet Euros missed in photos each time, and also in 1998 at Churchill Downs in a very strong field. This year's Euro model is the classy, well-connected Hawk Wing, who has never been worse than second, and who has stalking style and enough dirt pedigree to get a good trip just off expected fast pace. Came Home is 9 for 11 but remains the most underrated horse in America, even after beating elders at 1 1/4 miles in Pacific Classic. Medaglia d'Oro ran bias-aided 120 Beyer on gold-rail track in Jim Dandy, and has been rested since taxing Travers. Drew perfectly outside anticipated early duel between War Emblem and E Dubai.

- Dave Litfin

Evening Attire has been steady all year, but was really good winning his last two, and was never better than he was last out when he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup with a sub 24-second final quarter. His closing kick fits well in a race in which the pace should be contested. The Europeans missed in photos in the last two Classics with Giant's Causeway and Sakhee. European Hawk Wing may not be quite on the same level as Giant's Causeway and Sakhee, but there are no Tiznows in this field, either. And Hawk Wing is best at this distance. Medaglia d'Oro comes into this suitably fresh, and of the other pace players - War Emblem and E Dubai - he is the most tractable.

- Mike Watchmaker