Updated on 09/16/2011 9:29AM

BC Countdown - Turf: Surprisingly small field; Europeans stand out


The $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf will have its smallest field in history at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

Only nine horses were listed at Thursday's pre-entry stage, the same number that started in the 1986 Turf at Santa Anita. There were 10 starters in the 1988 and 1992 runnings of the Turf.

The list of candidates features runners from throughout North America and Europe.

The favorite will be High Chaparral, the winner of the English and Irish derbies, who finished third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Oct. 6. Aidan O'Brien trains High Chaparral in Ireland. The overseas runners also include Golan (England) and Ballingarry (France). Ballingarry won the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sept. 29, and has since been acquired by Sidney Port. He returned to Europe in early October to complete quarantine procedures.

The best chance for the domestic team is Denon, who won the Turf Classic at Belmont Park. Other North American-based runners include Blazing Fury, Falcon Flight, Perfect Soul, The Tin Man, and With Anticipation.

Falcon Flight, Golan, and High Chaparral were supplemented.

"I was quite surprised that there was only nine in there," said Roger Attfield, who will start likely longshot Perfect Soul. "I thought the race would overfill."

The most notable absence from the field is Marienbard, the Arc winner. His participation had been doubtful for a week after he was removed from the future-book betting for the Turf by some English bookmakers.

On Thursday, Simon Crisford, the racing manager for the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing, announced that Marienbard had been sold to stud in Japan and has been retired.

"He reached a pinnacle of his career when he won the Arc," Crisford said. "We've taken the view that that race took something from him. We thought the Breeders' Cup came too quick for him."

Godolphin has won the Turf with Daylami (1999) and Fantastic Light (2001).

The European team is also without Mubtaker, a Group 2 stakes winner in England who would have been a longshot.

Perfect Soul was a surprise pre-entry. Trained at Woodbine by Attfield, Perfect Soul finished second in the Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap and fourth in the Canadian International. Attfield and owner Roger Fipke felt Perfect Soul deserved another chance in top-class company after the Canadian International.

"We were too far off of it for the kind of pace in that race," Attfield said. "It was a hard place to win from."

A 4-year-old Irish-bred, Perfect Soul has made all five of his starts at Woodbine this year. Perfect Soul won his first three starts in overnight races and made his stakes debut in the Niagara on Aug. 31. He was beaten three-quarters of a length after taking the lead in early stretch.

Attfield said he hasn't finalized the jockey assignment. He added Perfect Soul will ship to Chicago on Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the Arlington turf course was listed as firm. There is little rain forecast for the coming days.

Trainer Bobby Frankel hopes that rain will soften the ground for Denon.

"He's runs a little better on soft ground," Frankel said. "Hopefully, he'll get a little cut in the ground. He's a very honest horse."