10/11/2005 11:00PM

BC Mile: Sharp in prep victory, Singletary looks ready to defend vs. Leroidesanimaux

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The defending champ emphatically stated his case, a major prep race turned established form inside out, and the European who might have given divisional leader Leroidesanimaux his toughest test dropped out of the running. It was a busy week in Breeders' Cup Mile Land. And still there are two weeks to go.

But now we know that Singletary is as good as he was last year when he won the Mile at Lone Star Park. His trainer, Don Chatlos, had said as much, and Singletary tallied the easiest kind of 1 1/2-length victory in the Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita.

"It turned out to be the right prep, for sure," Chatlos said. "He bounced out of it really well. He'll just have two easy works before the Breeders' Cup. I'll keep him as fresh as I can, and now it's a matter of maintenance."

The weekend's other Mile prep, the Shadwell at Keeneland, produced bizarre results. Host, a 10-1 shot coming back from an eight-month layoff, beat 27-1 Vanderlin by a neck, with 28-1 Gulch Approval third and 27-1 Remind fourth. The favored Three Valleys finished fifth, but his trainer, Bobby Frankel, said the horse disliked the going at Keeneland and would probably come back in the Mile.

Host, a Chilean-bred, would have to be supplemented to the Mile for $200,000, but trainer Todd Pletcher said he and owner Eugene Melnyk were "leaning toward" running.

Host now has won 7 of 12 starts on turf. Before the Shadwell, his best win since being imported from Chile had come last year in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap, though that was not an especially strong race.

The highly regarded Irish shipper Ad Valorem finished sixth in the Shadwell, but trainer Aidan O'Brien has said Ad Valorem might still return for the Mile. But Dubawi, one of Europe's top milers, was injured and retired last week, leaving a hole in the overseas contingent. Moreover, Starcraft, who beat Dubawi last month in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth, is seriously being considered for a start in the Classic rather than the Mile. The French horses Valixir and Whipper still are possible for the Mile, with a couple of new names, Court Masterpiece and Major Cast, also being bandied about.

It appears that Singletary might be the lone California representative in the Mile, with the trainers of Designed for Luck and Buckland Manor, second and third in the Oak Tree Mile, saying they would pass on a trip to Belmont.

Waiting in the wings is the Mile favorite, Leroidesanimaux, who breezed an easy six furlongs in company with the filly Barancella on the Belmont grass course Tuesday. Frankel said Leroidesanimaux would have a more serious work next week in his second-to-last breeze before the Mile. And asked if his horse appeared to be holding form after winning the Sept. 18 Atto Mile by nearly eight lengths, Frankel said, "You never know, but he seems to be all right."

With eight straight victories, six in graded stakes, Leroidesanimaux is all right indeed.

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

RANKHORSETRAINERODDS
1LeroidesanimauxR. Frankel2-1
More dominating than ever in Atto Mile for 8th straight win; a monster
2SingletaryD. Chatlos Jr.6-1
His Oak Tree Mile win was terrific, as good as his win in this last year
3StarcraftL. Cumani5-1
Right now, his next start is a toss up between this race and the Classic
4ValixirA. Fabre6-1
May have tailed off after being Europe's best miler early in the season
5Artie SchillerJ. Jerkens8-1
Involved in close finishes in his last four; not the best habit to develop
6FunfairH. G. Motion12-1
Nailed Artie Schiller in the Kelso with better trip; 3 for 3 in this country
7WhipperR. Collet15-1
Close 10th in this last year; his Timeform ratings are better this year
8Ad ValoremA. O'Brien12-1
Taking the position that he's a lot better than he showed at Keeneland
9HostT. Pletcher15-1
It's likely that this upset winner of the Shadwell will be supplemented
10Three ValleysR. Frankel12-1
Was as dull in the Shadwell as he was sharp winning DMR B.C. Hcp
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.