10/11/2001 12:00AM

Turf news: Sakhee to go in Cup


Sakhee, rated by Timeform as Europe's top horse after his victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, will have his next race in the Breeders' Cup.

Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum made the decision Thursday morning to send Sakhee to Belmont Park on Oct. 27 rather than to the Oct. 20 Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Like Fantastic Light, Sakhee will be pre-entered in both the Turf and the Classic, but it is a near certainty that Sakhee, a 4-year-old son of Bahri, will go in the Turf and Fantastic Light in the Classic.

This is in line with Godolphin's policy of "keeping our options open" as racing manager Simon Crisford put it. "The additional week offered by the Breeders' Cup was an important factor in the decision to send Sakhee to New York," Crisford continued. "When a horse gives such a generous performance as Sakhee did in the Arc, you need a little extra time to get him ready for his next race."

Crisford said that Sakhee had come out of his six-length Arc romp over Aquarelliste "in good shape."

Sakhee, Fantastic Light, and Breeders' Cup Mile candidate Noverre were scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on Friday afternoon

Timeform awarded Sakhee a rating of 135+ for his Arc triumph. Although that is one point lower than he was awarded for his seven-length score in the Juddmonte International Stakes, it is still one pound higher than the best ratings achieved in Europe this year by Fantastic Light (134 in the Prince of Wales's Stakes) and Galileo (134 in the Irish Derby). Britain's Jockey Club handicapper gave Sakhee a 133 for the Arc, the best of any horse in Europe this year.

British bookmakers Coral Eurobet have installed Sakhee as the 4-5 favorite for the Turf. By contrast, Daily Racing Form lists him at 8-5.

The Turf will be just the fourth race of the year for Sakhee, who had a knee problem early in the season. Trained by John Dunlop at 2 and 3, he was second by a length in the 2000 Epsom Derby to last year's Arc winner Sinndar. Out of action from last July until this July, he comes to the Turf not only with a trunkload of talent, but with a freshness so important in late-season races.