09/25/2001 11:00PM

Tabor loaded for Championships

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Interest among Europeans in the World Thoroughbred Championships is expected to be at an all-time high next month when those battling superstars, the 3-year-old Galileo and the 5-year-old Fantastic Light, come together for a rubber match in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

The Classic is by no means an all-Europe show. Tiznow, the reigning Horse of the Year and the winner of last fall's Classic, is coming to the race smartly in California. He will have one more prep, either at Belmont Park or Santa Anita, and his people feel he will be hard to beat.

There are other attractive prospects as well, including the Whitney and Woodward winner Lido Palace, the dependably competitive Albert the Great, and the hard-hitting Aptitude. But Galileo and Fantastic Light have been so spectacular and so close in their two celebrated confrontations in England that they dominate the racing news wherever they go.

"They are two good ones," says Michael Tabor, who owns Galileo in partnership with Coolmore Stud. "Whichever gets a bit of a break will win. The slightest factor, such as the draw, could be significant. Fantastic Light has raced on dirt before and that is an advantage. Galileo will have a taste of it on an all-weather track before he comes to New York but that's really not the same thing, is it?"

Tabor, who lives in Monte Carlo, was speaking from London after attending meetings. Like racing men everywhere, he was shocked by the terrorist strike at the World Trade Center and is understandably concerned over the possibility of trouble in the future. He indicates that this will probably be Galileo's last season of competition before retirement to stud.

Tabor may have representation in several of the World Thoroughbred Championship races. Mozart, considered the best sprinter in England, may come for the Sprint, though he has no dirt experience. Left Bank, the Vosburgh winner, is another prospect for the Sprint, as is the stakes-winning Yonaguska. Johannesburg, who ran well in the Heinz 57 in Ireland and the Norfolk Stakes in England, is under consideration for the Juvenile. He runs in the prestigious Middle Park Stakes next week and a final decision on the New York trip will follow.

*Ed Bowen, who has written two outstanding and informative works in recent years with his "Dynasties: Great Thoroughbred Stallions" and "Matriarchs: Great Mares of the 20th Century," hits the bull's eye once again with his latest book, "At the Wire: Horse Racing's Greatest Moments" (Eclipse Press, Lexington, Ky., $29.95).

This is a compilation of 27 outstanding races over the years plus several Breeders' Cup events of note that have earned a place in American racing history. Beautifully told and brimming with detail, Bowen tells us of Affirmed and Alydar in the memorable Belmont Stakes of 1978; Sunday Silence and Easy Goer in the Preakness of 1989; Personal Ensign and Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff of 1988; Alsab and Whirlaway in their match race of 1942; Jaipur and Ridan in the Travers of 1962; and John Henry and The Bart in the Arlington Million of 1981.

Each story is appended by a chart of the race, making "At the Wire" an invaluable reference as well as a thoroughly entertaining read.

Bowen calls the Affirmed-Alydar war in the 1978 Belmont the greatest race ever run in this country. You may or may not agree with him but you are sure to enjoy "At the Wire."