10/16/2002 11:00PM

All Gong best of Miller's three jumpers


The racing world is changing for the Miller family of Cochranville, Pa.

Of course, patriarch Bruce Miller remains a steeplechase trainer, but his son Chip has assumed the role of trainer as well as jockey.

Daughter Blythe faces an uncertain racing future. She suffered a concussion in a spill at Saratoga and may not ride in races again. Plus, she recently became engaged.

Through it all, one thing has remained constant. Bruce Miller is still at the top of American steeplechasing. Saturday, he will be represented by three starters in the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase at Far Hills, N.J. - All Gong, Pelagos, and Turkish Corner.

Run over 2 5 /8 miles and 14 fences, the BC Steeplechase drew eight entrants and is led by Zabenz, the winner of the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga in August. The field features the last two winners - All Gong (2000) and Quel Senor (2001).

"All Gong is my best hope," Bruce Miller said. "When All Gong won it two years ago, it was a bit of a surprise. He showed how good he was."

The Breeders' Cup Steeplechase is run at Moorland Farms in central New Jersey before a crowd that could reach 50,000. The atmosphere combines a day of racing with a tailgate party of a college football game. There is no formal betting.

At stake is the division lead going into the final weeks of the steeplechase season.

Zabenz is considered the top contender. He has won four of five over jumps since switching from the flat earlier this year. He began his jumping career in Australia in June.

All Gong finished 11th in the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan in April, but rebounded to win the Grade 1 Iroquois Stakes at Nashville in May. The 2000 steeplechase champion, the 8-year-old All Gong, finished third in a recent prep race at Shawan Downs in Maryland. Chip Miller rode All Gong in place of Blythe Miller in that race, and said it was a learning experience.

"I think he'll improve off that race," said Chip Miller. "There's always a bond that develops between a horse and a rider, and on a couple of fences at Shawan we weren't on the same thought."

Quel Senor is winless in three starts this year. He will be joined in the field by Double Leaf, Flat Top, and Tres Touche.

"It's one of the three most important races of the year," Chip Miller said of the BC Steeplechase, ranking it along with the Colonial Cup in South Carolina and the New York Turf Writers Cup.

"I haven't been close enough to smell it and think I was going to win it. It would be great to look at the winning picture and say, 'I won one of the biggest races of the year.' "