10/06/2002 11:00PM

B.C. possible for Arc trio


PARIS, France - As Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin troops celebrated a second successive victory in the $1,568,000 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with Marienbard at Longchamp on Sunday, there was hope that the first three finishers in the great French race might all travel to Arlington Park for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

In addition to the 15.80-1 winner, who surprised both British and French fans in the crowd of 43,951, runner-up Sulamani and third-place High Chaparral are both being considered for the Turf.

"Marienbard will run next in either the Breeders' Cup Turf or in the Japan Cup," said trainer Saeed bin Suroor after having put in a quick call to Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai while awaiting the triumphant return of the Caerleon 5-year-old to the paddock winner's circle.

Breeders' Cup officials can take hope that Godolphin will choose the Turf, as the Japan Cup will be run this year, on Nov. 24, at the reduced distance of 1 3/8 miles at Nakayama while the grandstand at Tokyo undergoes renovation.

Twelve furlongs would be preferable for Marienbard, who had been retooled last year into a stayer in an attempt to take advantage of his stamina.

But after a ninth-place finish in the two-mile Melbourne Cup, Godolphin decided to put him back to 1 1/2 miles.

His campaign this year was hardly ambitious prior to Sunday. His last two races were both Group 1 victories but they came in the Deutschland-Preis at Dusseldorf and the Grosser Preis von Baden at Baden-Baden.

"At first we were undecided about the Arc for Marienbard," Suroor noted, "but we decided to try it because the two best 3-year-olds had never run against older horses before."

In the end it was a tight, but formful, fit in an Arc that lacked its usual depth of quality. Frankie Dettori, who had cruised home aboard Sakhee in last year's Arc, rallied Marienbard in traffic from seventh to collar the eventual fifth Islington inside the furlong pole. The winner had enough to hold off the late charge of French Derby winner Sulamni, who had been left too much to do by his rider Thierry Thulliez.

The 4-1 Sulamani fell three quarters of a length short of victory. It was another half a length back to the 2-1 favorite High Chaparral in third with Califet fourth and Aquarelliste sixth. The winning time on good ground was a rather quick 2:26.70, making it the fourth fastest Arc in history, 2.4 seconds off the track mark set by Peintre Celebre in 1997.

Both Sulamani and High Chaparral should come on for their Arc experiences. The Pascal Bary-trained runner-up had only the farcically run Prix Niel under his belt since his French Derby heroics on June 2, while High Chaparral had been absent since taking the Irish Derby on June 30.

Bary had said after the French Derby that the end-of-season target for the Niarchos Family-owned Sulamani would be the Breeders' Cup Turf. However, Alan Cooper, the family's racing manager would not confirm his presence at Arlington after what was, for Sulamani's connections, a heartbreaking defeat.

Aidan O'Brien was philosophical about the performance of High Chaparral, who tracked the pace of his rabbit Black Sam Bellamy and Islington but, while failing to quicken, stayed on resolutely to save third.

"He's run a great race after being away for 14 weeks," he judged, "During that time he was very sick with a virus in midsummer. "We'll see how he comes out of this race before making a decision about the Breeders' Cup."

With King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner Golan expected at Arlington for the Turf, that race would develop into an event of world championship proportions if Marienbard, Sulamani and High Chaparral all accept the challenge.

Coral Eurobet's Breeders' Cup Turf odds: Sulamani 4-1, High Chaparral 4-1, Marienbard 5-1, Golan 6-1, Boundary 10-1, Denon 10-1.