09/10/2005 12:00AM

O'Brien wins pair of Group 1's


Aidan O'Brien has had many big days in his brilliant career as a trainer, but few, if any, have been as rewarding as Saturday, when he won major Group 1 prizes with Oratorio in the Irish Champion Stakes and Scorpion in the St. Leger Stakes.

As talented as he is, O'Brien is unable to be in two places at once, so he chose Leopardstown, where Oratorio duplicated his mastery of Motivator in the $1.24 million Irish Champion with a half-length victory, exactly the same margin by which he had beaten Motivator in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on July 2.

Once again, it was Kieren Fallon who rushed Oratorio, a Danehill 3-year-old, at just the right time to wear down Motivator.

Motivator had been content under substitute rider Kevin Darley to ease five lengths behind the dueling longshot pacesetters, Temple Place and Hazarista. He quickened clear at the three-sixteenths pole, only to be run down by Oratorio late in the 1 1/4-mile race.

The outstanding filly Alexander Goldrun finished with a rush for third, just a head behind Motivator, the Epsom Derby winner. Oratorio's stablemate Ace was fourth, and Azamour, the defending champ and recent winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, was fifth, two lengths behind the winner as the 3-2 choice.

Oratorio rewarded his backers to the tune of 7-1 and traveled the left-handed 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.93 on ground labeled good to yielding.

O'Brien has many options with Oratorio, the most obvious being the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 15. He believes, however, that his three-time Group 1 winner can stay farther than 10 furlongs, so the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 2 is a possibility.

The Arc is definitely the next race for the Michael Bell-trained Motivator, a Montjeu colt who must certainly prefer 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles.

At Doncaster, it was another Montjeu colt who carried the day in the classic $827,000 St. Leger Stakes. Scorpion led throughout under a substitute rider of his own, Frankie Dettori, holding off the late challenge of The Geezer. Just a half-length second to Hurricane Run in the Irish Derby, Scorpion set a new Longchamp track record July 14, when he won the 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Paris, and in light of those accomplishments he was sent off as the 10-11 St. Leger choice.

Though he set a dawdling pace over the heavy Doncaster going, Scorpion quickened clear at the quarter pole but was under some pressure to hold The Geezer safe by a length. The winning time of 3:19.01 for the 1 3/4 miles, 132 yards was largely meaningless considering the state of the ground.

O'Brien has many options for Scorpion, who appears to be in the same mold as Milan, O'Brien's 2001 St. Leger winner. Milan went on from Doncaster to finish fifth in the Arc and second in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

- Earlier at Leopardstown, Attraction returned to her best when leading throughout under Kevin Darley to take the Group 1, $310,000 Matron Stakes at one mile. Her three-quarter-length victory over Chic was accomplished in 1:38.99. Trainer Mark Johnston said he is pondering three Group 1 mile races for Attraction this fall: the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Sept. 24, the Sun Chariot Stakes for fillies and mares on Oct. 1, and the Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 29.