07/04/2007 11:00PM

Americans can't match classy foreign invaders


As there is reason to believe that Valbenny, a daughter of Val Royal out of an Indian Ridge mare, cannot stay 1 1/4 miles, as Black-Eyed Susan winner Panty Raid may not take to turf in her first try on that surface, and as Audacious Chloe is taking a major step up in class, it is logical to look for the winner of Saturday's American Oaks from among the four foreign invaders.

Start by crossing off Supposition. Trained by Dermot Weld, the man who fashioned Dimitrova's American Oaks triumph in 2003, this Dansili filly was a promising 2-year-old in Ireland who will be making her 3-year-old debut on Saturday. Weld has a magic touch, but will have to conjure a miracle to see Supposition in the winner's circle.

But the three other foreign invaders make this the most competitive American Oaks in its brief but brilliant history.

Anamato will be trying to do what no Australian-trained horse has done since the legendary Phar Lap - win a North American Grade 1 race or its equivalent. Her chance must not be discounted. A Group 1 winner at the Oaks distance in her last start, she is by the excellent sire Redoute's Choice and is trained by David Hayes.

Hayes won the 1990 Japan Cup as a rookie with Better Loosen Up, was twice the leading trainer during a 10-year stint in Hong Kong, and leads the standings Down Under this 2006-07 season with record earnings of $19.1 million Australian (about $16.2omillion U.S.) and 11 Group 1 victories. While Anamato will be the first horse he has saddled in America, Hayes is a seasoned internationalist. Take note that the Australians Takeover Target and Miss Andretti have both won major sprints at Royal Ascot the last two years. Anamato is very much in their class.

Robe Decollete carries Japanese hopes, and they are high. Like Cesario two years ago, she is seeking a Japanese Oaks-American Oaks double. Robe Decollete just got up to win the 1 1/2-mile Japanese edition at Tokyo, but she might prefer Hollywood's shorter 1 /4-mile trip, especially as she was a 1 1/8-mile winner at 2. "Low-Cut Gown," as her name translates into English, would make an elegant addition to the list of Oaks winners, but a French filly with a baby name may spoil her party and that of Anamato as well.

Just Little won her fourth in a row when taking the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux at 55 yards longer than 1o1/8 miles on April 29. She was honed for speed last time when third in a good Group 2 mile at Chantilly. The Jean-Claude Rouget trainee is sharp, has a nose for the finish line, and should be perfectly suited by 10 furlongs on firmish ground. The booking of Victor Espinoza, who replaces Christophe Lemaire, could be to her advantage as Espinoza is more familiar with Hollywood's tight turns and short straights than his French counterpart.