10/21/2002 11:00PM

Medaglia d'Oro best bred for distance

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LAS VEGAS - The following is an analysis of all eight Breeders' Cup races, written before the final entries and post positions were drawn. Keep in mind that post position will play a very significant role in the majority of Breeders' Cup races.

Distaff

1. Summer Colony 2. Farda Amiga 3. Azeri 4. Take Charge Lady

If Azeri (by Jade Hunter) wins the Distaff, and any horse but War Emblem, Came Home, Medaglia d'Oro, or Rock of Gibraltar wins the Classic, she will become a legitimate contender for Horse of the Year honors in a year lacking a clear-cut choice. Nearly flawless all year, she has faced the same group of fillies in California, and now must contend with the quality speed of Imperial Gesture (Langfuhr), who is on a three-race win streak. While Azeri may not need the lead, she will be on the pace, joined very closely by Imperial Gesture and Take Charge Lady (Dehere). These three should carve out taxing fractions, which will benefit Summer Colony (Summer Squall) and Farda Amiga (Broad Brush). Summer Colony will be a fair price because of her third-place finish in the one-turn Beldame, and may be the one to beat. Farda Amiga won the most important 3-year-old filly races, the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes, and takes 3-year-old filly honors if she finishes ahead of Take Charge Lady and Imperial Gesture.

Juvenile Fillies

1. Storm Flag Flying 2. Santa Catarina 3. Composure

Rock of Gibraltar is the marquee name for this year's Breeders' Cup, but Storm Flag Flying (Storm Cat) may emerge as the big star. Undefeated, she will try and duplicate the success of her dam, My Flag, who won the 1995 Juvenile Fillies. Storm Flag Flying has more tactical speed than her dam, and while it is far too early to compare her to her famous granddam, Personal Ensign, she has looked awesome in all three of her starts. Santa Catarina (Unbridled) got the jump on Storm Flag Flying in the Frizette, but was no match for her in the stretch. Both fillies are bred to get better with maturity and distance, and they are superior to the rest of the field at this time. Composure is from the first crop of Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, and figures to improve with distance, especially with two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged as her dam's sire. Buffythecenterfold, Humorous Lady, and Atlantic Ocean will all be part of a furious pace and are best up to one mile.

Mile

1. Good Journey 2. Aldebaran 3. Beat Hollow 4. Rock of Gibraltar

While Rock of Gibraltar is certainly the one to beat, the underrated late-bloomer Good Journey (Nureyev) could be the play of the day on firm to good turf. Aldebaran (Mr. Prospector), a half-brother to Good Journey, returns to his best surface and has plenty of class to light up the tote board. Beat Hollow (Sadler's Wells) was one of the best European colts at 3, running third to Sinndar and Sakhee in the Epsom Derby. Away for two years, he returned to the races this year and is all class. Rock of Gibraltar (Danehill) is strictly bred for turf and one mile and belongs here and not in the Classic (dirt and 1 1/4 miles). Never beyond one mile, this brilliant colt is by Danehill, one of the world's great turf stallions. While the Danehills have won at classic distances on the grass, they have yet to duplicate that form going long on dirt. On soft turf, Gossamer (Sadler's Wells), a full sister to 1994 BC Mile winner, Barathea, becomes the upset pick.

Sprint

1. Kona Gold 2. Swept Overboard 3. Orientate 4. Touch Tone

Based on only one race this year, in which he uncharacteristically finished out of the money, Kona Gold (Java Gold), now 8, has been all but written off. Winner of the 2000 BC Sprint, Kona Gold is working like a 3-year-old, with renewed energy. In a race top-heavy with 21-second first quarter speed (Xtra Heat, Touch Tone, Bonapaw, Carson Hollow, Crafty C.T., Day Trader, Orientate, and Thunderello), the race sets up for stalkers Kona Gold and Swept Overboard (End Sweep).

Filly and Mare Turf

1. Banks Hill 2. Kazzia 3. Golden Apples 4. Islington

Despite talk to the contrary, Banks Hill (Danehill) may be even better than she was last year, when she won this race over inferior rivals. Finishing closely behind top-rated colts Grandera and Rock of Gibraltar this year, she gets the narrow nod over Kazzia (Zinaad) who, along with Islington (Sadler's Wells), is the top rated 3-year-old filly in Europe. Golden Apples is ultra-consistent and very sharp. Don't overlook lightly raced Dublino (Lear Fan), who may improve greatly over the Arlington surface.

Juvenile

1. Listen Indy 2. Toccet 3. Sky Mesa 4. Vindication 5. Whywhywhy

Listen Indy (A.P. Indy) is reminiscent of 1999 BC Juvenile winner Anees. Both colts were not as precocious as their opponents on fast California tracks, and Listen Indy, like Anees, is bred to relish longer distances and will be strong in the stretch. Toccet is from the first crop of 1998 BC Classic winner Awesome Again and his Champagne Stakes victory was no fluke. Undefeated Sky Mesa (Pulpit) has a world of ability but looked green in his easy Breeders' Futurity win. Vindication (Seattle Slew), also unbeaten, has been carefully handled and should find 1 1/8 miles no problem. Whywhywhy (Mr. Greeley) comes from a classy King Ranch female family but may be best up to one mile.

Turf

1. High Chaparral 2. Golan 3. Denon

As usual, the Europeans tower over the rest of this field. High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells), the top-rated European 3-year-old, finished a game third in the Arc after missing a prep for that race. The Epsom and Irish Derby winner has too much class for this field, with the exception of Golan (Spectrum), a 12-furlong specialist. Denon (Pleasant Colony) is clearly the best U.S. hope.

Classic

1. Medaglia d'Oro

With the handicap division in ruins, the Classic looks like anything but a classic. But it is a terrific betting race as well as a showdown for top 3-year-old honors and possibly Horse of the Year between War Emblem, Medaglia d'Oro, Came Home, and Rock of Gibraltar. Medaglia d'Oro (El Prado) was brilliant in the Jim Dandy and Travers, and is the best-bred 3-year-old for 1 1/4 miles.