Updated on 09/17/2011 11:25PM

BC Mile: Main threats to Leroidesanimaux finish one-two in Queen Elizabeth II


CHICAGO - Starcraft and Dubawi were hardly secrets before last weekend, but they affirmed their position as the top European challengers to Leroidesanimaux in the Breeders' Cup Mile when they finished one-two in Saturday's Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Newmarket in England.

Starcraft, bred in New Zealand and campaigned for his first two seasons in Australia, scored a mild upset in the Queen Elizabeth, winning by three-quarters of a length over favored Dubawi, who received a questionable ride from jockey Frankie Dettori. Both apparently are headed to Breeders' Cup races, but only after Godolphin, the racing operation spearheaded by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, declined a match race proposed by one of Starcraft's owners.

Still, the Mile might not bring about a Queen Elizabeth rematch. Luca Camani, who trains Starcraft, said Wednesday that Starcraft is also being considered for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"The mile and a quarter would be no problem," said Camani, who won the 1994 Mile with Barathea. "As for dirt, you don't know until they try it."

According to Camani, Starcraft is an excellent candidate both for long-distance shipping in general and trying new things in new places in particular. "He's a very strong, mature horse. If any horse would make the transition it would be him," he said.

While Dubawi will push on to the Mile, Soviet Song, a multiple Group 1-winning English mare, is out of the race with an injured foot, and Rakti, another highly regarded European who finished a well-beaten fourth in the Queen Elizabeth, has all but been declared from the Mile.

"No, I don't think he will be coming," trainer Michael Jarvis said Wednesday. "He's not Breeders' Cup-nominated, so it'd be an extremely expensive trip."

Other Europeans being considered for the race are Valixir and Whipper, who finished 10th in the 2004 Mile.

For now, the horse they all have to beat is laying low in New York. Leroidesanimaux, who won the Atto Mile by about a mile Sept. 18, is doing fine, trainer Bobby Frankel said, and is on course for a start in the Mile. Frankel also said Wednesday that Three Valleys is likely for the race, but that the filly Alinghi, slated to start next in the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, was not being pointed to the Breeders' Cup.

The Shadwell and the Oak Tree Mile, both next weekend, are the final major Mile preps in the U.S. A European starter could emerge from this weekend's seven-furlong Prix de la Foret in France, and Artie Schiller, one of the top American milers, will be favored in the Kelso at Belmont Park on Sunday. Trainer James Jerkens said he was pleased with Artie Schiller's sizzling grass work last weekend, but emphasized that Artie Schiller must earn a start in the Mile on Sunday.

"He's got to run very good," Jerkens said. "You can't be going into a race like [the Mile] off a dull effort."

Mile Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 mile (turf). Purse: $1.5 million.

1DubawiS. bin Suroor5-1
By all accounts, he got a bad ride when second in QE II at Newmarket
2LeroidesanimauxR. Frankel3-1
More dominating than ever in Atto Mile for 8th straight win; a monster
3StarcraftL. Cumani6-1
Connections mentioned the Classic after he won QE II; this more likely
4Three ValleysR. Frankel8-1
Liked his win in the Dmr B.C. Handicap; is definitely on the upswing
5RaktiM. Jarvis8-1
Capable of a lot better than his meek fourth in the QE II would suggest
6Artie SchillerJ. Jerkens6-1
Decision to pass the Atto Mile in favor of the Kelso looks smart now
7ValixirA. Fabre6-1
May have tailed off after being Europe's best miler early in the season
8WhipperR. Collet20-1
Close 10th in this last year; his Timeform ratings are better this year
9SingletaryD. Chatlos Jr.15-1
Last year's Mile winner doesn't seem to have the same spark this year
10FunfairH. G. Motion15-1
Two for two since coming to the U.S., but against weaker than this
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.