10/29/2001 12:00AM

Turf: Fantastic Light gives Europe another


ELMONT, N.Y. - Europe's domination of the Breeders' Cup Turf shows no signs of relenting. On Saturday, Fantastic Light, a three-time Group 1 winner in England and Ireland this year, won the $2 million Turf at Belmont Park, holding off a furious rally from fellow European invader Milan.

Fantastic Light became the third consecutive European import to win the Turf and the fourth in the last six years.

Timboroa, who ran third, had the best finish of the American-based horses.

With Frankie Dettori aboard, Fantastic Light led by 2 1/2 lengths in the final furlong and was all out to hold off Milan, prevailing by three-quarters of a length. Sent off as the favorite, Fantastic Light ($4.80) finished 1 1/2 miles in 2:24.36, shaving .14 off Sky Classic's 1992 course record.

A 5-year-old owned by Godolphin Racing, Fantastic Light was a late addition to the Turf field when entries were drawn on Wednesday. Godolphin chose to enter Fantastic Light in the Turf instead of the Classic, the race in which he had been expected to start.

"If he wouldn't have won we would have been disappointed," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "We are delighted, but that last furlong seemed to take forever."

A winner of 12 of 25 starts, Fantastic Light has earned $7,434,321.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Fantastic Light was always well placed in the Turf. Through the first six furlongs, Fantastic Light was fourth or fifth, stalking the pace of With Anticipation and Timboroa, who set fractions of 24.40 and 48.02 seconds. With Anticipation remained close to the lead until the end of the backstretch, but faded along the rail, leaving Timboroa with the lead.

Timboroa had a two-length lead with a quarter-mile remaining, but his jockey, Edgar Prado, knew it was a long way to the wire.

"My horse was comfortable, but [With Anticipation] died and I made the lead," Prado said. "I thought he would take me a little further and I'd have a target."

Timboroa led into the stretch, but could not shake clear of Fantastic Light. As Fantastic Light straighted into the stretch, just behind Timboroa, Dettori glanced over his right shoulder, checking for competition.

"I didn't want to get to the lead too early," Dettori said. "I let Timboroa take me as far as he could and then I asked [Fantastic Light]. He had a great turn of foot."

With Fantastic Light clear in front, Milan launched a strong rally and rapidly made up ground on him. "The only thing that scared me was Fantastic Light got a little comfortable in front," Dettori said. "I kept saying, 'Can you give me a little more?'"

Milan, ridden by Mick Kinane, was forced to rally wide on the final turn around the fading pacesetters.

The first two finished far ahead of the other nine runners. Timboroa held third, but finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Fantastic Light. Blazing Fury, a 3-year-old, finished fourth, and was followed by Hap, Chorwon, With Anticipation, Lodge Hill, Slew the Red, Quiet Resolve, and Mutamam.

Fantastic Light gave the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing its second winner in the Turf in the last three years. Godolphin scored with Daylami in 1999. Last year, Europe's Kalanisi won at Churchill Downs.

Crisford said the Japan Cup in late November in Tokyo is a possible next start for Fantastic Light, who is scheduled to be retired to stud next year.