10/28/2005 11:00PM

Shirocco leads 1-2-3-4 Euro finish

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Shirocco leads a parade of European invaders to win the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Shirocco led a parade of European invaders in Saturday's $2,090,760 at Belmont Park, justifying his growing popularity in the days leading to the wide-open race.

Listed at 20-1 on the morning-line, Shirocco was bet down to 8-1 and ran 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:29.30 on a good course. Based in France with trainer Andre Fabre, Shirocco ($19.60) finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Ace, who is based in Ireland. Azamour, the 7-2 favorite from Ireland, and Bago, of France, finished third and fourth.

The best finish by an American-based horse was English Channel, who finished fifth. Defending champion Better Talk Now finished seventh.

Shirocco was always well-placed under jockey Christophe Soumillon. The French-based Soumillon became the fourth jockey to win the first Breeders' Cup race of his career on Saturday, joined by Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez, and Edgar Prado.

Soumillon had Shirocco in second for the first mile, chasing Shake the Bank, a rabbit for Better Talk Now. Shake the Bank led by as many as seven lengths through early fractions of 23.95 and 47.89 seconds.

Shake the Bank's quick pace helped several closers. Shirocco, running well within himself, glided alongside Shake the Bank at the end of the backstretch when Shake the Bank faded.

Shirocco led for the final half-mile. He had a half-length advantage over English Channel with a quarter-mile remaining and was not seriously threatened through the stretch, extending his lead through the final furlong.

"This is just a dream," Soumillon said. "When I got to the turn, I just wanted to let him go and not try to pull him back to mix up his action. When he saw the wire, he just flew home."

The win marked Fabre's first success in the Turf since In the Wings's victory in 1990 at Belmont Park.

Ace finished a neck in front of Azamour, who was three-quarters of a length in front of Bago. English Channel was followed by Silverfoot, Better Talk Now, Gun Salute, Fourty Niners Son, Leprechaun Kid, Laura's Lucky Boy, Shakespeare, and Shake the Bank.

Azamour closed from seventh in the final quarter-mile, but was hampered in traffic, jockey Michael Kinane said. "I got held up at a vital time," Kinane said.

Shakespeare, the winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic here Oct. 1, suffered his first loss in his sixth start.

"He just couldn't get a hold of the ground at all," jockey Jerry Bailey said.

Shirocco's victory in the BC Turf was his third in a Group 1 or Grade 1 race. Owned and bred by Baron Georg von Ullmann, Shirocco won the German Derby and a Group 1 against older horses in Italy as a 3-year-old in 2004 when trained in Germany by Andreas Schutz.

Shirocco joined Fabre's stable during the summer. Shirocco will stay in training in 2006, Fabre said.

"He can act on any ground," Fabre said. "He's a strong galloper, and today's condition suited him. He's a staying horse with a lot of power."