10/23/2003 12:00AM

Not such an upset after all


ELMONT, N.Y. - Victory by a longshot in Breeders' Cup competition is not a great surprise. With horses coming from all parts of the world, and with training schedules carefully adjusted for these races, unexpected results often follow.

That is why we've seen winners such as Lashkari at 53-1 in 1984, Spain at 55-1 in 2000, One Dreamer at 47-1 in 1994, and Volponi at 43-1 in 2002. But the upset of them all - the triumph of France's Arcangues at 133-1 in the Breeders' Cup Classic of 1993 - was a distinct surprise . . . or was it?

This is the 10th anniversary of that memorable episode, which took place the last time the Breeders' Cup was held during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita. Bertrando and Best Pal, the Western stars, were perceived to be major threats over their home track. Bobby Frankel, who trained Bertrando, had a strong entry which included Marquetry and Missionary Ridge. The Eastern stars, Devil His Due and Colonial Affair, had moderate support.

Arcangues had little support, surprising in itself because he was owned and bred by Daniel Wildenstein, one of France's leading horsemen, and was trained by the brilliantly successful Andre Fabre. Earlier that season, the 5-year-old Arcangues had won the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Deauville and in a previous campaign had taken the measure of the celebrated Arazi in the Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp.

After the Breeders' Cup, however, it was reported that Arcangues had a back problem that was aggravated by Europe's undulating turf courses. He was shipped to America in the hope he would benefit from the flat courses.

None of Europe's top riders seemed interested in the Breeders' Cup mount on Arcangues, and it was only in the last few days before the race that Jerry Bailey was named. Bailey had hoped to ride Devil His Due, but when the mount was taken, he accepted the invitation aboard Arcangues.

"I had never ridden for Andre Fabre and didn't know what he looked like," Bailey recalled the other day. "The paddock was crowded so I went directly to the horse and met the traveling lads. They gave me instructions but it was all in French and I didn't understand a word. It reminded me of the South American riders who come here and get their orders in English."

Bailey had ridden European horses before, and knew they preferred to settle into stride and then come on in a sustained drive. He decided to ride that kind of race, put his horse on the rail upon reaching the backstretch, and saved as much ground as possible.

The favored Bertrando cut out a lively pace and led into the stretch with Arcangues directly behind him. At the sixteenth pole, Bailey sent Arcangues around Bertrando to score by a decisive two lengths. An audible gasp filled the warm air over Santa Anita as the 55,000 on hand realized the winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic was going to pay $269.20.

Bailey rode Arcangues into the winner's circle where he finally met a smiling Andre Fabre.

"He had a lot to say," Bailey recalled, "but it was all in French. I gathered he was pleased."