11/24/2004 12:00AM

Lowdown on Euros in Turf Festival


Fourteen European newcomers are expected to make their American debuts at the Autumn Turf Festival at Hollywood Park this weekend, eight starting for the first time for their new American trainers. Six are listed as trained by European trainers, and five of those will be turned over to American trainers after the Festival. The one scheduled for a return trans-Atlantic trip is Mingun, who will go back to Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard after his run in the Citation Handicap.


Miesque Stakes: Witten is a Fusaichi Pegasus filly who won the listed one-mile Grand Criterium de Bordeaux by two lengths on soft ground last time out, on Oct. 13. Before that she won her maiden going a mile on good ground. Never underestimate anything trainer Jean-Claude Rouget sends here, even if he is leaving the filly here, as he is one of the sharpest trainers in the world. He also has Shining Energy, a daughter of Rahy, in the Miesque. This one was second, beaten a neck, last time against colts in the listed Prix des Sablonnets at one mile at Nantes, losing to Sunny Sky, who will go in the Generous on Saturday. Not to be overlooked is Louvain. Close up in a pair of listed races against colts, she has never run a bad race.

Still, Royal Copenhagen might be the best of the bunch. She beat winners in her Chantilly debut, then beat Sunny Sky six lengths into third before finishing a short neck second in the Group 3 Prix du Calvados at Deauville on Aug. 21 in her last start.

La Maitresse, formerly with Michael Halford in Ireland, makes her first start for Carla Gaines. A maiden winner at lowly Roscommon, La Maitresse was a distant third and a close fourth versus colts in listed company in her last two, but hasn't run since July 24. Another ex-Brit, Lady Le Quesne, appears overmatched. It would be a surprise if one of the French fillies does not win this.


Generous Stakes: Sunny Sky, trained by the venerable Maurice Zilber, was well beaten in top-class company by Divine Proportions and Helios Quercus, but improved greatly with the application of blinkers in his last two. The performance of Zilber's Prix des Sablonnets runner-up Shining Energy in the Miesque will provide a clue to Sunny Sky's chances.

Moth Ball, one of two ex-Jamie Osborne-trained colts now with James Cassidy, is the preference. Bought privately for $385,000 in October, he is from the family of 1990 Arc winner Saumarez. Continually improving, he won the listed Rockingham Stakes at York last time. Like last year's Cassidy-trained Miesque runner-up, Ticker Tape, Moth Ball is by Royal Applause. Another Osborne-to-Cassidy runner is Forzeen. By Metropolitan Handicap winner Forzando, he appears better suited to dirt.

Citation: O'Brien has the once highly regarded Mingun in this 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 stakes. A half-brother to the multiple Group 1 winner and great stallion Kingmambo, as well as to French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks winner East of the Moon, Mingun was only five lengths behind the outstanding Falbrav in last year's Group 1 Juddmonte International. A Group 3 winner by A.P. Indy, Mingun has disappointed on soft ground this year, and while he will appreciate firm going, he might be past his sell-by date.

Three Valleys is another iffy Citation prospect. Top class in England at 2, he was the winter favorite for the 2000 Guineas, but finished 11th, beaten 20 lengths, on race day May 1. He has not run since.


Hollywood Derby: Fight Club, trained by champion German trainer Andreas Schutz and owned by Gary Tanaka, stands a strong chance off his close second to Hong Kong Cup-bound Soldier Hollow in the Group 2 Euro-Cup at Frankfurt three back. A three-time winner on good-to-firm ground, he disliked the soft going in his last two. Fight Club could be the weekend's value play.

Not so, Joursanvault. Frequently tried by Alain de Royer-Dupre in France, he is now with Jenine Sahadi. He was chasing Bago and American Post early in his career, but has been no closer against lesser opponents more recently.

Matriarch Stakes: Denebola, the juvenile filly champion in France last year, when she won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, is winless in five tries for trainer Pascal Bary this year. But an excellent second to ace British sprinter Somnus in the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret last time sets her up nicely for this race against Ticker Tape and three talented ex-French fillies: Musical Chimes, Etoile Montante, and Intercontinental.