09/25/2002 11:00PM

Two Europeans worth watching


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Historically, the best horses in Europe have contributed greatly to the competitiveness of the Breeders' Cup races. And this year, the top 2-year-old colt in Europe might come over for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Elusive City is a precocious and very talented colt by leading freshman sire Elusive Quality. Having finished first in each of his three starts, including the Group 1 Prix Morny, Elusive City is scheduled to race next in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes on Thursday.

The bay colt is owned by the Thoroughbred Corp., and Richard Mulhall, the company's president, said, "We will make a decision after the Middle Park" about going to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Rather than determining a set of races in advance, Mulhall said, "We'll have to go race by race. The immediate objective is the Middle Park. Then we'll decide about the Breeders' Cup, and then we can think about the alternatives for next year."

Should Elusive City win the Middle Park and come to Chicago for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a victory in the principal American race for 2-year-old colts probably would make Elusive City a favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby - and he is already well fancied for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in the spring of 2003.

Elusive City has been the seal of quality for his sire, whose first crop has raced this year. Already the sire of four stakes winners, Elusive Quality is a son of top stallion Gone West and was a racehorse who showed spectacular speed on occasion. From 20 starts, Elusive Quality exceeded 100 on the Beyer Speed Figures 11 times, twice racing above 120. Although he never connected his best efforts with the most important races, Elusive Quality earned a chance at stud with victories in the Grade 3 Poker and Jaipur handicaps, and he has made the most of his opportunities standing at Gainsborough Stud in Kentucky.

Gainsborough's general manager, Allen Kershaw, said, "It's always nice to have a Group 1 winner in the first crop. Elusive Quality is an important horse for American breeders. It's been a long time since a horse has done it on the dirt and on the turf." Kershaw was referring to the ability of Elusive Quality's progeny to race well on either surface, and that versatility may be important to Elusive City.

Mulhall said that "when we bought him, the intention was to send Elusive City to Europe. The way he's bred, it looked like grass would be good for him. He ran the first time on the all-weather; so dirt would appear to be all right too."

Elusive City's proven form has come at a beneficial time for his family. His sire, who stood previously for $10,000, will probably stand for two or three times that figure next season. In determining a stud fee, Kershaw said that "we'll have to see how things go the rest of the year," as well as discuss the matter with Sheikh Mohammed and his advisers at Darley Stud Management.

In addition, Elusive City's half-sister, by the Gone West horse Mr. Greeley, brought $485,000 at the Sept. 16 session of the Keeneland September yearling sale. She brought the high price for the session not only because she was a good-looking filly by one of the hottest stallions this year, but also because she is a half-sister to a very good young horse with a lot of upward mobility. Three Chimneys Farm, agent, sold the filly to Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable.

Another European to watch

Another highly pedigreed European colt with classic potential, named Dalakhani, is an intriguing prospect both for next year's top races in Europe and a thought for the 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf. Dalakhani, winner of the Group 3 Prix des Chenes at Longchamp, is a gray colt by French Derby winner Darshaan, also the sire of Kotashaan, winner of the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year in 1993. And Dalakhani is a half-brother to Daylami, who won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 1999 and was named Eclipse champion turf horse.

Dalakhani and his older half-brother are both gray horses out of the Miswaki mare Daltawa. Both were bred by the Aga Khan in Ireland, and he owns and races Dalakhani. Daylami won the French 2000 Guineas and a half-dozen other Group 1 or Grade 1 stakes, and the Aga Khan sold Daylami privately to Godolphin during the colt's 3-year-old season. Godolphin raced him at 4 and 5, when he won the Breeders' Cup and Eclipse Award. After retirement, Daylami reverted to the Aga Khan's ownership and stands at stud in Ireland. Daylami's first crop races next year.