09/21/2006 11:00PM

Alexandrova to pass on Arc de Triomphe


What could be the smallest Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe field in memory on got smaller on Friday. Trainer Aidan O'Brien's announced that his 3-time Group 1 winner, Alexandrova, will pass on the big 1 1/2-mile Arc on Oct. 1 in favor of the 1 1/4-mile Prix de l'Opera versus her own sex the same day.

The news follows that of O'Brien's plans to run Dylan Thomas at Turfway Park or Belmont Park before a tilt at the Breeders' Cup Classic. Their Arc defections stem in part from the presence of Hurricane Run, the Arc favorite. A 4-year-old son of Montjeu, he is owned by Michael Tabor, but Mrs John Magnier, the owner of both Alexandrova and Dylan Thomas, owns a minor share in him, so O'Brien is keen to keep them all on separate paths.

Many of the fillies or mares who qualify for the Arc may be opting for the Opera. Trainer Ed Dunlop has yet to decide between the two races for Ouija Board, while Princess Zahra Aga Khan would have to supplement her Prix Vermeille winner, Mandesha, for $76,000. Barry Irwin of Team Valor has opted to send his Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner, Irridescence, in the Opera instead of the Arc, while Freedonia, winner of the Group 2 Prix de Pomone, is sitting on the fence. The only female certain to go in the Arc is Pride, a 6-year-old Peintre Celebre mare trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre.

Owner Susan Roy has anted up the $76,000 to get her St. Leger winner, Sixties Icon, into the Arc, but a field of fewer than 10 is possible. Ladbrokes lists just nine in its betting line: Hurricane Run at 5-2; Shirocco 3-1; Deep Impact, who worked well at Les Aigles in Chantilly Friday morning, 3-1; Rail Link 8-1; Pride 12-1; Sixties Icon 12-1; Mandesha 12-1; Sir Percy 14-1; and Freedonia 20-1. The penetrometer at Longchamp on Friday read 3.3, or good to soft.- Alan Shuback