02/08/2002 12:00AM

Read all about England's top 2-year-olds


In sharing the distinction of being the highweighted British-trained juvenile colts on the International Classification of 2001 at 122, Dubai Destination and Captain Rio do a good imitation of the prince and the pauper.

Dubai Destination, now being prepared by Saeed bin Suroor in Dubai for one international classic or another, was a $1.5 million yearling purchase. Sired by the talented stallion Kingmambo, he is a first foal out of an Alleged dam who is a half-sister to Agnes World, winner of Group 1 sprints in Japan, France, and England. He lived up to his royal pedigree with a one-length win over subsequent two-time Group 1 winner Rock of Gibraltar in the seven-furlong Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in his final start of the season.

Captain Rio, on the other hand, is an upwardly mobile type who went under the hammer three times before settling in at Richard Whitaker's upcountry stable in West Yorkshire. A Pivotal colt, Captain Rio went for $38,000 as a foal, $44,000 as a yearling, and $100,000 as a 2-year-old. He rewarded latest owner Jeff Dawson to the tune of $305,630 with three victories in six starts, among them the valuable Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy, a six-furlong race restricted to horses that have been sold at auction.

He followed that with an eye-opening performance in the Group 2, six-furlong Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte in which he powered clear to win by eight handy lengths in the rather fast time of 1:14.30 on heavy ground. By comparison, older handicap horses traveled the same distance half an hour later in 1:16.20.

In taking the measure of War Zone and Perrexa, Captain Rio was admittedly beating up on listed race types. Moreover, his size and running style suggest that he will be limited to sprints, although he is a half-brother to two winners at 1 1/2 miles.

Remarkably, Captain Rio is the highest rated juvenile colt of 2001 currently in training in Britain. Naheef - whom David Loder trained to victory for Maktoum Al Maktoum in the Group 3 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, before he chased home Hawk Wing, trained by Aidan O'Brien, in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh - is now, like Dubai Destination and Group 3 July Stakes winner Meshaheer, in Dubai. One must drop eight pounds below Captain Rio and Dubai Destination on the Classification to 114 before finding the names of Firebreak, Guys and Dolls, and Redback, who were trained as juveniles by Ian Balding, Paul Cole, and Richard Hannon, respectively.

By Charnwood Forest, Firebreak traveled to Deauville to take the six-furlong Group 3 Prix de Cabourg, beating subsequent Baden-Baden Group 2 winner Flying Dash, a German-bred colt who was recently bought by Fusao Sekiguchi and turned over to Neil Drysdale. Firebreak also won the six-furlong Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, but in between he was beaten by two of Aidan O'Brien's titans, Landseer and Johannesburg. Still, he showed enough to coax Godolphin to part with $800,000 to purchase him, and is now with Suroor in Dubai.

Guys and Dolls, sold twice at auction before joining Paul Cole, journeyed to France to take the seven-furlong Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Longchamp, then returned to finish a good third behind French juvenile champion Act One in the one-mile Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. He has the makings of a promising 10-furlong runner while Redback, a Mark of Esteem colt who brought $63,000 as a yearling, won the seven-furlong Group 3 Solario Stakes, and could shape into a nice miler.

With the exception of the O'Brien trainees and their Maktoum-owned rivals, nearly all of the best 2-year-olds in England last year were bargain purchases at auction. Another is Where or When, a 2000 Guineas prospect who won the seven-furlong Group 3 Someville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket. He went for $41,000 as both a foal and a yearling.

The disparity between the powerful interests of Coolmore and Godolphin and the rest of the British racing world is causing some alarm. On the face of it, one can't see the likes of Captain Rio, Guys and Dolls, or Where or When overtaking Johannesburg, Hawk Wing, or Dubai Destination. Those last three should continue to shed glory upon their ultra-rich owners while men like Jeff Dawson must hope for the best with what $100,000 or less can get them.

Perhaps Tikkun can break into the upper echelons at 3. Trained by Roger Charlton, he won his maiden second time out at Folkestone by an impressive seven lengths. By Grand Lodge, he was awarded a promising Timeform rating of 100p for that effort, which came after an allowance loss to Carinae, the filly who was probably the best horse when an unlucky third in her American debut at Santa Anita last week.

But even Tikkun's owners at Mountgrange Stud had to go to $310,000 at Goffs Yearling Sale to get him. Stamina laden on his dam's side, he could give the big boys something to worry about on Epsom Derby Day, June 8.