09/29/2005 12:00AM

Coupe de Champe the Foret favorite


Course-and-distance specialist Coupe de Champe rates the edge in a hotly contested Group 1, $240,000 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, which starts its big Arc weekend Saturday. A seven-furlong race, the Foret tops a program that also features four Group 2 races.

The winner this season of the Group 3 Prix du Pin and the Group 3 Prix de la Porte Maillot over the same course on which the Foret will be run, Coupe de Champe is a 4-year-old filly and ex-handicapper trained by Patrick Tual. With Stephane Pasquier aboard, Coupe de Champe will meet the Pin runner-up, Mirabilis, as well as the off-form defending champ Somnus. She will face a sterner test, however, from recent group-race winners Iffraaj and Caradak.

An ex-handicapper himself, Iffraaj, trained by Michael Jarvis, rallied to nip Sleeping Indian last time in the seven-furlong Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster. With just eight races under his belt, Iffraaj will be making his first start outside of England.

Caradak takes a three-race winning streak into the Foret. His last two victories have come in Group 3 races, the seven-furlong Minstrel Stakes at The Curragh and the one-mile Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown. Michael Kinane will have the ride.

Kinane can pick up a Group 2 victory aboard Alayan in the Group 2 Prix Dollar, a 1 1/8-mile, 155-yard contest worth $144,000. Trained by John Oxx for the Aga Khan, Alayan won a 1 1/4-mile listed race at Leopardstwon on Sept. 10 off a four-month layoff. He rates the choice over Touch of Land, who was fifth in the Arlington Million, and Runaway, the Group 2 Prix Niel runner-up who is cutting back from 1 1/2 miles.

Special Kaldoun, trained by David Smaga, won the one-mile Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein two years ago and prepped for Saturday's $144,000 renewal with a victory in the Group 3 Prix Quincey at Deauville on Aug. 28. Tiganello, trained by Freddie Head, had won or placed in five group races at a mile this year and can get the job done under Olivier Peslier.

Kastoria looked like the winner of the 1 13/16-mile Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 7 until Sweet Stream ran her down late. An Oxx-trained daughter of Selkirk, Kastoria reappears in the Group 2, $144,000 Prix de Royallieu at 1 9/16 miles Saturday and could give Kinane a second big-race win of the day. Kastoria has 2 wins and 3 seconds from 5 starts. Challenging her will be Oiseau Rare, who won the Group 3 Prix Minerve at 1 9/16 miles, and Guadalajara, who finished second in the Group 2 Prix de Pomone at 1 9/16 miles.

Kinane to ride Scorpion

Kinane has picked up the ride aboard Scorpion in Sunday's Prix d l'Arc de Triomphe. Frankie Dettori, who rode Scorpion to victory in the St. Leger Stakes on Sept 9, has been claimed by Godolphin to ride Cherry Mix, who was second in the Arc last year but is a longshot this year.

In other Arc news, the Aga Khan has supplemented his listed race-winning filly Windya for $72,000 to serve as a pacesetter for Shawanda, the winner of the Irish Oaks and Prix Vermeille. Shawanda is the current 3-1 second choice behind 5-2 favorite Hurricane Run. The ground at Longchamp on Thursday was good and is expected to remain so this weekend.