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Turf looks like European preserve Two Cup races have continental favorites

ETOBICOKE, ONTARIO — ETOBICOKE, Ontario -- The magnificent turf course at Woodbine is European in design: slight dips and rises, a long backstretch, a wide, sweeping final turn and the longest homestretch in North America.

"On a course like this," said Sandy Hawley, the Hall of Fame Canadian jockey, "the best horse normally wins."

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And the best horses in tomorrow's two Breeders' Cup races over the E.P. Taylor turf course, nearly everyone here agrees, are from Europe.

This should be no surprise to American racing fans, who have seen European horses win five of the 12 Breeders' Cup Turf and six of the 12 Mile races. And now, they not only have the course in their favor, but the cool Canadian weather.

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Of the 12 European horses stabled here for Breeders' Cup races, seven are set for the $2 million, 1 1/2 -mile Turf. A four-horse entry from Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing Stable -- Singspiel, Shantou, Swain and Wall Street -- is 9-5 in the morning line, but may wind up odds-on.

Singspiel is the iron in the entry. The 4-year-old Irish-bred already has a win over the Woodbine turf at this distance, the Grade I Canadian International Stakes. His jockey, Gary Stevens, who has mounts in all seven Breeders' Cup races, said Singspiel is his best chance for a victory.

American hopes in the Turf rest with Awad, 4-1 in the early odds, and Diplomatic Jet, 5-1. The Maryland-bred Awad is owned in part by Jim Ryan, owner of Ryehill Farm in Mount Airy. Although Awad has not won in more than a year, his style of one furious late run should admirably suit this course.

In the Mile, the Irish-bred Mark of Esteem may be as heavily favored as Cigar in the Classic. The 3-year-old colt is considered the top miler in England, if not Europe. His latest conquest was the one-mile Group I Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 28.

NOTES: D. Wayne Lukas and his 10 entrants, including the game filly Serena's Song, a favorite in the Distaff, arrived yesterday at Woodbine. No other trainer here has more than four horses in Breeders' Cup races.

"She's absolutely the pro," Lukas said of Serena's Song. "She's amazing, almost too good to be true. She and Cigar have typified what we all want in a racehorse."

Mysteriously is likely to be withdrawn from the Distaff. A longtime ankle injury flared up yesterday.

Pub Date: 10/25/96



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