08/17/2007 12:00AM

York often spawns stars of fall


The medieval city of York becomes a thoroughly up-to-date place each year during the third week of August when its famous racecourse just outside the city walls runs three races that have a long history of producing big race winners during autumn.

Trainers at this time of the year are beginning to think about which season-ending finale to aim for with their best horses. York offers them a perfectly placed springboard from which they might choose.

York's three-day Ebor meeting will be held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday's opening day feature is the Juddmonte International at 1 1/4 miles and 88 yards. At the five-day entry stage, the Juddmonte field includes King George winner Dylan Thomas, Eclipse winner Notnowcato, Epsom Derby champ Authorized, and UAE Derby winner Asiatic Boy.

The 1 1/2-mile Great Voltigeur Stakes, also Tuesday, has Yellowstone, Lucarno, and Boscobel, while the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks on Wednesday could include defending champ Alexandrova in her seasonal debut, her Aidan O'Brien-trained teammate Peeping Fawn, the winner of three Group 1 contests this season, as well as French Group 1 winner Montare and English Oaks winner Light Shift.

The Juddmonte International sports a list of recent winners that is the envy of any race in the world.

In 1997, Singspiel concluded a career that numbered victories in the Canadian International, the Japan Cup, and the Dubai World Cup with a win in the Juddmonte. Three years later Giant's Causeway won the fourth of his five straight Group 1 races by defeating subsequent Breeders' Cup Turf winner Kalanisi by a head in the Juddmonte. Giant's Causeway himself would conclude his career with a heart-breaking neck loss to Tiznow in the BC Classic.

In 2001, Sakhee vaulted from his Juddmonte triumph to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe off an improbable seven-week layoff, then suffered a fate worse than Giant's Causeway's when beaten a nose by Tiznow in the Classic.

The tough-as-nails Falbrav followed his 2003 Juddmonte tally with a head loss in the Irish Champion Stakes to High Chaparral, then won the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes prior to a game head third to dead-heat winners High Chaparral and Johar in the BC Turf.

Sulamani's 2004 Juddmonte victory paved the way for his win in the Canadian International. A year later, Electrocutionist tried the same route, only to finish an unlucky fourth at Woodbine, where he was placed third. A few months later, Electrocutionist would use his international experience to win the Dubai World Cup.

The Great Voltigeur Stakes is sometimes used as a prep for the classic 1 3/4-mile St. Leger Stakes. It is much more than that, however, as it has been won in recent years by subsequent BC Turf winner Fantastic Light, Turf runner-up Milan, himself the winner of the St. Leger, and Powerscourt, winner of the Arlington Million and third in the BC Turf.

The Yorkshire Oaks is for fillies and mares. Islington won this race in 2002 prior to her third in the BC Filly and Mare Turf. A year later, she repeated in the Oaks two months before her Filly and Mare Turf victory. Two years earlier, Petrushka's Yorkshire Oaks triumph led to victory in the Longchamp's Prix de l'Opera before she finished fifth in the Filly and Mare Turf as the 7-5 favorite.