10/04/2006 11:00PM

Aussie Rules getting blinkers and Lasix


LEXINGTON, Ky. – When a race has a Grade 1 ranking and a $600,000 purse, the host track ought to be able to get a first-class lineup. And that seems to be just what Keeneland got when entries were taken for the Shadwell Turf Mile, which anchors a sensational 10-race Saturday card.

There is no clear-cut favorite in a deep 21st running of the Shadwell Mile, but there are plenty of attractive options. Perhaps as many as five of the nine starters are deserving of top billing, but none is more intriguing than the lone 3-year-old in the field: Aussie Rules, who hails from the powerful Aidan O’Brien stable and is entered off a string of five straight Group 1 races.

Off several decent, if unspectacular, efforts in Europe, change aplenty awaits Aussie Rules, a gray Danehill colt, in the Shadwell Mile. Not only will he be making his North American debut, but he also will be treated with the bleeder medication Lasix and equipped with blinkers for the first time. Surely many Keeneland horseplayers will interpret these changes to mean that O’Brien, who at age 35 already is widely considered one of Ireland’s all-time great trainers, is fully intent on making good with a colt who appears to have a major upside.

But if Aussie Rules disappoints, Remarkable News might be the one to fill that void. As the wire-to-wire winner of the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap two starts back at Saratoga, Remarkable News has the right kind of running style to be very dangerous in a Shadwell Mile that does not appear to have much pace. A Venezuelan-bred colt, he ran fifth in his last race, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, after forcing a tough pace.

“He got caught up on the pace last out, and it didn’t work out in the end,” said Ruth Hargreaves, traveling assistant for trainer Angel Penna Jr. “Hopefully the race will unfold more in our favor Saturday.”

Among the other main players in the Shadwell Mile are Silent Name, a Japanese-bred who won the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap in April before finishing third in his only two subsequent starts, both behind divisional leader Aragorn; Miesque’s Approval, the resurgent 7-year-old who has earned nearly half of his $1,450,079 bankroll in 2006 alone; and Three Valleys, who was well-beaten as the favorite in this race last year but now makes the third start in his form cycle after returning from a 10-month layoff with a gritty win in the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth in August.

Rounding out the Shadwell field are Hendrix, Cosmonaut, Old Dodge, and British Blue.

The Shadwell Mile is part of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s National Pick 4 wager, a $1-minimum wager that also includes the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic from Belmont Park and the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup from Oak Tree at Santa Anita. All four races will be shown live on a two-hour ESPN2 broadcast that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Shadwell Mile, which dates to 1986, is the ninth of 10 Keeneland races and the second leg in the National Pick 4.