10/03/2006 11:00PM

After Arc, focus turns to Belmont


With Shirocco apparently being the only potential contender to emerge from the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the outlook for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf now shifts from Europe back to America, where a pivotal New York prep will be run Saturday without arguably the most accomplished turf horse to be based there this year.

Cacique is passing the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Saturday because he has had enough preparation for the BC Turf, trainer Bobby Frankel said Wednesday from Belmont Park.

"I didn't want to run him again because he's had enough races already," said Frankel. "I thought I'd give him a break at the right time before the Breeders' Cup."

Cacique, bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, has raced four times, all in Grade 1 events, since he finished second in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on the May 6 Kentucky Derby undercard. He won his last race, the Sept. 9 Man o' War, marking the only time since the Woodford that he hasn't raced against English Channel, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt who, in his rival's absence, figures as a solid favorite in the Hirsch at Belmont.

Frankel said Cacique probably would be sent from New York to Keeneland next week, when Frankel himself will travel there to run horses in four stakes on the Oct. 13-15 weekend. And like most other American-based trainers with a BC Turf prospect, Frankel said he was interested in what occurred last Sunday in the Arc because of the impact that race typically has on the Turf.

This year, however, there wasn't much impact at all. Shirocco, the German-bred who upset the Turf last year at Belmont at nearly 9-1, finished last of eight in the Arc, which drew its smallest field since 1941. Afterward, trainer Andre Fabre said that Shirocco did not appear to care for the going at Longchamp and that he probably would be given the chance to defend his BC Turf title. It appears highly unlikely that any of the other Arc starters, most notably winner Rail Link and fourth-place finisher Hurricane Run, will be shipping overseas for the Turf, according to Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau in England.

Meanwhile, The Tin Man emerged from his wire-to-wire victory over T. H. Approval and Artiste Royale in the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship last Saturday at Santa Anita in good shape, according to trainer Richard Mandella.

"We're just watching him for a week," said Mandella. "He ran hard, obviously, and if he comes out and gets back together the way he has all year, then we'll be headed to Kentucky when it's appropriate."

As for other potential BC Turf runners, the Joe Hirsch could produce a starter or two aside from English Channel. Perhaps the most interesting new shooter in that race is Frost Giant, a 3-year-old Giant's Causeway colt who races for the formidable team of owner Michael Tabor and trainer Aidan O'Brien. Frost Giant has won a pair of Group 3 races in Ireland in just four career starts.