10/24/2005 11:00PM

BC Turf: Alkaased may scratch if course is too soft

Luca Cumani says he would consider "good" turf acceptable for Alkaased.

ELMONT, N.Y. - A wet turf course could lead to the withdrawal of Alkaased from Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park, trainer Luca Cumani warned on Tuesday.

A Group 1 winner in France in June, Alkaased is considered a longshot among the five European-based candidates for the Turf, run over 1 1/2 miles. He has had most of his success on turf courses rated good or firm, a point that concerned Cumani on a rainy Tuesday morning at Belmont.

"I'm pleased with the horse, but not pleased with the weather," Cumani said. "If this is the condition on Saturday, there is a chance he wouldn't run."

The New York area has been hard hit by rain in recent weeks. Another storm arrived on Monday night.

Alkaased won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud over 1 1/2 miles on a good-to-soft turf course in June, but was second in the Prix Foy at Longchamp in September and fifth in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, England, on Oct. 15 under the same conditions. In the first 12 starts of his career, which include two stakes wins, Alkaased, 5, ran on good or good-to-firm ground.

The forecast for the rest of the week does not include rain, giving Cumani some hope for better conditions by race day.

"A good turf course would be fine," he said. "I'm hoping that a mile and a half will suit him better. Hopefully, there will be plenty of pace."

There are 14 probable starters for the Turf. One colt who can claim the ability to race on nearly every sort of turf course is English Channel, 3, who has earned more than $1 million racing on grass this year for James Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher.

A winner of 5 of 8 starts and three stakes, English Channel has run well on firm, good, and yielding surfaces. In the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on a firm course at Belmont on Oct. 1, English Channel finished second by a head to BC Turf hopeful Shakespeare.

English Channel's top performances came during the summer against 3-year-olds at Colonial Downs - in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the Grade 3 Virginia Derby. The second in the Turf Classic was very encouraging to Pletcher.

"It was his first time against older horses and at a mile and a half," Pletcher said. "He showed he belongs. He has run in all the races that we marked for him. That's hard to do."