Updated on 09/16/2011 8:22AM

BC Countdown - Turf: Denon wins role of America's best hope

Email

Denon assumed the role of top American contender for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf with his win in the Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Saturday.

But he is one of a only few proven American horses preparing to challenge what is expected to be an all-star European team at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 .

The European list of participants will not be final for another few weeks, following two key preps - Sunday's Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France and the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in England on Oct. 19.

Regardless of which foreign horses appear at Arlington, trainer Bobby Frankel said Denon is in top form.

"He's good and he's fresh," Frankel said. "He ran very well."

Denon's Turf Classic win was his second Grade 1 win of 2002. During the summer, Denon was second to With Anticipation in the Sword Dancer and United Nations handicaps, losing the Sword Dancer by a head. "He pulled himself up too soon," Frankel said of the Sword Dancer. "He did it again last week."

Frankel does not think pulling up too soon will be a problem in the Breeders' Cup.

"He won't have to worry for the Breeders' Cup," Frankel said. "They'll make him run in that race."

With Anticipation was sixth in the Turf Classic, and remains a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Turf despite that disappointment. Trainer Johnathan Sheppard said a decision on With Anticipation's status may not be made until the week of the race.

"He seems fine," Sheppard said. "He didn't seem tired or distressed after the race. Obviously, it wasn't his true running. Soundness-wise, he's fine."

If the turf course at Arlington Park is soft, Sheppard said With Anticipation may pass. "I don't know how you can evaluate how the ground will be," he said. "We'll train him up to the race as if he'll run."

He mentioned the Hollywood Turf Cup in late November as an alternate race.

Other American starters may emerge in Sunday's Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Oak Tree at Santa Anita and Sunday's Sycamore Breeders' Cup Stakes at Keeneland.

Whichever American horses emerge, they will face an all-star cast of Europeans, many of whom are bound for the Arc.

Arc favorite Sulamani is a probable for the Turf, which like the Arc is run over 1 1/2 miles. High Chaparral, the winner of the English and Irish derbies in June, is trainer Aidan O'Brien's best chance for the Arc. A top performance could lead to a start in the BC Turf.

Aquarelliste and Nayef are other Arc candidates who could start in the BC Turf.

Some American stables are buying European-based runners in advance of the Turf. On Tuesday, trainer Laura de Seroux announced the acquisition of Ballingarry, winner of the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sunday. Ballingarry was previously trained by O'Brien.