09/09/2001 11:00PM

Top 2 Euros bound for Classic

Email

After producing one of the most electrifying stretch duels in memory in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes, Fantastic Light and Galileo will both head to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

The connections of the victorious Fantastic Light have decided to forgo the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in favor of the Classic.

Sheikh Mohammed and his brother Sheikh Maktoum realize that Fantastic Light is a better horse at 1 1/4 miles than at 1 1/2 miles, and Sheikh Mohammed left no doubt that the Classic is next on the agenda. "He will go straight to the Breeders' Cup Classic," he said. Fantastic Light, a Rahy 5-year-old, will be running on dirt for the first time in his career in the Classic.

The Godolphin team was applauded as key in Fantastic Light's victory over previously undefeated Galileo. Jockey Frankie Dettori gave credit to Sheikh Maktoum, who on Friday said that Fantastic Light should make Galileo follow him.

As the race developed, Galileo, whose high cruising speed has been praised by trainer Aidan O'Brien, was allowed to follow Fantastic Light. At the head of the stretch, slightly over two furlongs from home, Galileo's rider, Michael Kinane, paid the price. He had to go wide around the Godolphin pacesetter Give the Slip, who had been eased off the rail by Richard Hills to allow Fantastic Light through.

For a moment just inside the furlong pole it looked as if Galileo would get past Fantastic Light, but Dettori found something extra in the winner's tank. He held on by a head with the good Group 2 winner Bach six distant lengths behind in third. The winning time of 2:01.80 was .8 seconds off the track record.

Fantastic Light returned a generous 9-4 as a record flat-racing crowd of 16,987 at Leopardstown bet Galileo down to 4-11 favoritism.

Galileo will now skip the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as a disheartened O'Brien, along with co-owners Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, regroup for the Classic. A son of Sadler's Wells, Galileo is expected to travel to the British all-weather track at Southwell in three weeks for a workout. That is the same racecourse where Giant's Causeway had his major Classic work last year.

Slickly does it again at Longchamp

Godolphin concluded a superb weekend on Sunday as Slickly cruised to a rather surprising three-length victory in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. Believers in the horse-for-course theory, however, were jumping for joy, as they collected to the tune of 4-1. Slickly was winning his fifth group race at the Parisian track, the biggest being the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris in 1999.

A 5-year-old French-bred son of Linamix, Slickly was coming off an allowance score at Sandown after having finished sixth in the Dubai Duty Free. Ridden to perfection on the front end by Dettori, he was beating some very good milers in this Group 1 race with the Andre Fabre-trained pair of Banks Hill an unthreatening three lengths second and Vahorimix a well-beaten sixth.

Plans for Slickly are fluid, but he is a possibility for all of the big international races this fall at a mile and 1 1/4 miles.