Head horse named

Posted: Monday, October 29, 2001

NEW YORK -- Tiznow has made a late run at becoming Horse of the Year, while four Europeans have laid claim to North American championships.

The 4-year-old Tiznow became the first two-time winner of the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic, repeating his 2000 triumph with a nose victory over Sakhee on Saturday at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Champion-ships at Belmont Park.

Following the classic Classic, principal owner Michael Cooper said he thought Tiznow had done enough to win his second Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.

It was the third victory in six starts this year for Tiznow, who did not race from March to September because of a bad back. It was the fifth Classic win for jockey Chris McCarron.

Cooper noted that 3-year-old Point Given, the leading Horse of the Year candidate, had not beaten older horses. Point Given, however, won four straight $1 million Grade I stakes, including the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, before being retired in August because of a tendon injury.

While there is no Horse of the World honor, Sakhee should be considered the world's best after narrowly missing victory in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. The race was Sakhee's U.S. and dirt-track debut, and his first start since winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France.

Among those beaten in Classic were favored Aptitude and European 3-year-old star Galileo.

Europeans who likely will win Eclipse Awards as division champions are Johannesburg (Juvenile), Fantastic Light (Turf) and Banks Hill (Filly & Mare Turf).

Johannesburg, a Kentucky-bred colt, remained unbeaten in seven starts, all this year, with a 1 1/4-length score in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile. His U.S. debut was his first start on dirt and his first race at more than six furlongs.

Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien said Johannesburg could return for next year's Kentucky Derby. In 1991 Arazi came from Europe to win the Juvenile, be voted champion 2-year-old and become the favorite for the Derby, where he finished eighth.

One of the day's disappointments was Officer, the 3-5 favorite in the Juvenile, who finished fifth for his first loss in six starts.

''The Yankees ... Officer. Even the great ones lose,'' trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday.

Officer, owned by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, will get a chance to polish his reputation in December in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Fantastic Light, another Kentucky bred who finished fifth in 1 1/2-mile Turf last year, held off a closing rush by Milan for a three-quarter-length win Saturday. He is owned by the Godolphin Racing stable of the Maktoum family of Dubai, also the owner of California-based Tempera, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.

British-bred Banks Hill romped home by 5 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Filly & Mare Turf to give Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia his first Breeders' Cup victory.

It was a bittersweet day, however, for the prince and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel got his first Breeders' Cup win with David Lanzman's Squirtle Squirt in the six-furlong Sprint, but he lost with favorites Aptitude; Flute, seventh in the Distaff; and You, fourth in the Juvenile Fillies. Aptitude and Flute are owned by Khalid Abdullah. Edmund Gann owns You.

Frankel now is 1-for-42 in Breeders' Cup starts. The prince is 1-for-32.

The other winner Saturday was Val Royal in the Mile on the grass.

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