10/24/2002 12:00AM

Handicappers' analysis of the Breeders' Cup F&M Turf

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Islington's loss by two lengths in the Arc de Triomphe established her as one of the world's top turf runners, irrespective of gender. She now faces females, and off her resounding August triumphs in England appears formidable. Her lone flaw? Wheeling back less than three weeks after a big effort in the Arc. Certain favorite Golden Apples remains in top form and her newfound speed under Pat Valenzuela insures another trouble-free trip. The main difference between her and the top choice is Islington has faced better company this year. Dublino has a wicked kick and will fly late. Banks Hills had a tough trip last time, but may be over the top. Starine and Gossamer would move way up on on soft footing.

- Brad Free

Islington has two strong wins over fillies in Group 1 stakes, then was a solid fifth, beaten by only two lengths in the Arc de Triomphe. She will be formidable against fillies and mares, and will offer bettable odds. Banks Hill was second, only a half-length behind Rock of Gibraltar in the Prix du Moulin. Draw a line through her troubled third-place finish in the Yellow Ribbon, and she would be no surprise with better racing luck today. Gossamer finished one position and 1 1/2 lengths behind Banks Hill in the Prix du Moulin. She will offer better odds than Banks Hill, and will be an overlay in the exotics. Golden Apples won the Beverly D. over this course, and was a game winner of the Yellow Ribbon. Riskaverse and Zenda overcame a slow pace in the Queen Elizabeth. The faster fractions they'll find here will suit them.

- Steve Klein

Islington was short after leading midstretch of Arc, but this dual Group 1 winner should find shorter trip versus own sex a softer spot. Has won 3 of 4 on left-handed courses, including high-class Yorkshire Oaks, in which Kazzia was fourth. Vulnerable on soft ground. Golden Apples repeatedly has shown the best form of U.S.-based runners this season. She also has edge of recent win on this course, which she prefers firm. Gossamer is similar to Banks Hill last year, as she stretches out from classy one-mile races overseas with requisite route pedigree. Is more intriguing the softer the course. Banks Hill (contender on firm turf only) needed no prep after Prix du Moulin last year, so why did she run in Yellow Ribbon after scratching from Flower Bowl because of off turf?

- Dave Litfin

Islington ran big to be a close fifth against some of Europe's best males in the Arc, and now moves back in with members of her own sex. Shipping across the Atlantic, and running back in less than three weeks after such a hard effort is a concern, but she galloped in both the Nassau Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks in August with an even shorter break in between. Banks Hill had a brutal ride in the Yellow Ribbon in her recent return to America. She was awesome winning this race last year, and is capable of a repeat. Golden Apples beat Banks Hill in the Yellow Ribbon, and won the Beverly D. over this course in August; obvious threat in a loaded race.

- Mike Watchmaker