Churchill an Attractive Lure to Euro Cup Possibles

European horsemen tend to favor cold weather sites for the Breeders' Cup, and particularly Churchill Downs with its long stretch.

From 17 Euro wins in 16 runnings of the Breeders' Cup, five have come under the Twin Spires. But that may not be surprising in light of the fact that the four runnings at Churchill Downs have lured an average 18.5 Euro runners while the other 12 Cups have averaged 12.9 from across the Atlantic.

The millennial Breeders' Cup is shaping up along similar lines with a tentative participation by 25 European runners at time of writing. At the head of the list are: Giant's Causeway, who will run in the Classic (gr. I); Petrushka, who will be supplemented ($90,000) into the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT); Distaff (gr. I) aspirant Crimplene, whom Clive Brittain will work over the Southwell Fibresand track this week; and possibly Montjeu, second in the Dubai Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at the weekend about whom a decision will be made this week about supplementing him ($180,000) into the Turf (gr. IT). His Newmarket conqueror, Kalanisi, has been penciled in for the Turf by trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

Others to come out of European racing last weekend with an eye on Louisville are two Khalid Abdullah colts, Barry Hills-trained Distant Music, third in the Champion, and the one-two from Longchamp's Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) -- Amanda Perrett-trained Indian Lodge and Abdullah's Andre Fabre-trained Dansili, both of whom are eyeing the Mile (gr. IT).

Trainer Aidan O'Brien has said Turnberry Isle will join Godolphin's Noverre in the Juvenile (gr. I) after his victory in the Beresford Stakes (Ire-III) on Sunday while Mick Channon-trained Innit, a multiple listed winner, is headed for the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Needless to say, the Turf and Mile have been most favored by Europeans over the years with an average of 5.4 runners in the former and 4.3 in the latter and this year should be no exception. Nine are expected to be pre-entered for the Mile and six for the Turf. With his victory in the Canadian International (Cdn-I) on Sunday, Godolphin's Mutafaweq confirmed his place in the Turf while Sumitas, trained in Germany by Peter Schiergen as is F&MT hopeful Catella, has recently come into the reckoning for the Mile.

Europe may not be represented in the Sprint (gr. I) for only the third time, but there are rumors abroad that Godolphin's Bertolini could be double-entered in the Mile and the Sprint after running second to Big Jag in the listed Dubai Golden Shaheen at six furlongs on sand in March.

Philip Mitchell is in a race against time to get Running Stag, a frequent U.S. visitor over the last couple of seasons, fit in time for the Classic but another European, American (gr. II) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) winner Pine Dance, is on course for the ten-furlongs for Irish trainer Dermot Weld.

Bookmaker Coral already has issued prices on several Breeders' Cup races and make European runners favorite or co-favorite in three heats. Petrushka is the outright market leader in the Filly & Mare Turf at 2-1 ahead of 7-2 Perfect Ski and Kalanisi heads the market for the Turf on 4-1 ahead of another Euro, 5-1 Fantastic Light, while Luca Cumani-trained Arkadian Hero is alongside Ladies Din and Riviera at the front of the Mile market.

Possible European runners in this year's Cup are:

Giant's Causeway
Pine Dance
Running Stag


Fantastic Light
Fruits of Love


Arkadian Hero
Indian Lodge
Distant Music


Ella Athena


Turnberry Isle