10/24/2003 11:00PM

Islington makes amends for 2002

Favored Islington (left), feeling Kieren Fallon's whip, slips by L'Ancresse in deep stretch to win the Filly and Mare Turf.

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 victory over trainer Aidan O'Brien's uncoupled pair of L'Ancresse and Yesterday in Saturday's $1,060,000 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 Johar in the Turf.

"Other than the French, none of the European horses have done well in the past in California," said Stoute, who trains the Irish-bred and -based Islington for the estate of the late Lord Weinstock. "I'm glad we're finally learning how to do it. 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 5-2 favorite Islington prevailed by a neck under a furious ride by Fallon. Yesterday raced near the back of the pack for more than six furlongs and finished well enough to outlast Heat Haze, the best U.S. finisher, by a nose for third.

Rounding out the order of finish were Megahertz, Riskaverse, Voodoo Dancer, Tates Creek, Bien Nicole, Mezzo Soprano, Musical Chimes, and Dimitrova.

Islington covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.13 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, who spent six winters in this country learning the U.S. style of race-riding while working for trainer Bobby Frankel during the European off-season.

"Today I got the position I wanted around the first turn and got my filly to relax," Fallon said. "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."

Stoute said Islington would be retired next season but could possibly start once more before the year is out in the Japan Cup.

Edgar Prado, who rode L'Ancresse, said he was proud of his filly's effort even in defeat.

"My filly was very game," said Prado. "The winner kind of gradually gained on us and my horse really tried to fight back when headed. She was just second best."