10/12/2004 11:00PM

England-based Rebuttal intriguing longshot if he comes

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European-based runners always add a little intrigue to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, primarily because the horses are usually making their first start on dirt and their first start in a route race.

Three years ago, Johannesburg conquered both obstacles to win the Juvenile and finish the year unbeaten, and was named champion on two continents.

It is still uncertain what, if any, European participation there will be in this year's $1.5 million Juvenile at Lone Star Park. One European-based runner seriously being considered for the race is Rebuttal, a son of Mr. Greeley owned by the New York-based Peter Minikes and trained in England by Brian Meehan.

Minikes said if the logistics can be worked out, Rebuttal would be pre-entered on Monday. Those considered definite to be pre-entered are Afleet Alex, Bellamy Road, Boston Glory, Consolidator, Diamond Isle, Proud Accolade, Roman Ruler, and Sun King.

Rebuttal is only 1 for 4 in his career, but is coming off a narrow loss to the unbeaten Ad Valorem in the Group 1 Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. Rebuttal has only competed in six-furlong turf races in England and his pedigree suggests that he is a sprinter.

"Smarty Jones was bred to be a sprinter, too," Minikes said, referring to this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. "Rebuttal's got the stamina question; whether he can go a mile and a sixteenth on dirt nobody really knows. If he can get six furlongs on soft ground, I think he can get a mile and a sixteenth at Lone Star."

While Rebuttal would be a longshot in the Juvenile, it's worth noting that Minikes and Meehan pulled a major upset in the Grade 1 Gazelle last year with Buy the Sport, who shipped in from Europe to beat Lady Tak. Minikes and Meehan also ran second in last year's Remsen Stakes with Master David in his U.S. debut.

Minikes purchased Rebuttal for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training sales at Calder in February. It is Minikes's policy for all his horses to begin their careers in Europe with Meehan.

"I believe they do better over there," Minikes said. "I have a lot of confidence in Brian. He's a great 2-year-old trainer. I haven't seen anybody in America that I'd be as comfortable with."

Aidan O'Brien, who trained Johannesburg and 2002 Juvenile third-place finisher Hold That Tiger, has not finalized his plans for the Juvenile. Two of his top prospects, Oratorio and Scandinavia, are entered in Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Oratorio is a multiple group stakes winner. Scandinavia, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, is a half-brother to Composure, who finished second to Storm Flag Flying in the 2002 Juvenile Fillies.

Edward Sexton, the racing manager for George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, said Abel Castellano would regain the mount on Bellamy Road, who finished seventh in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity under Ramon Dominguez.

Patriot Act, runner-up in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, will not be pre-entered and will point to a fall campaign at Churchill Downs.

JuvenileContenders
2-year-old colts & geldings, 1 1/16 miles. Purse: $1.5 million.

RANKHORSETRAINERODDS
1Sun KingN. Zito6-1
Got an impatient ride in the Champagne; will improve, and can upset
2Proud AccoladeT. Pletcher7-2
He still hasn't gone two turns yet, but his Champagne was very good
3Roman RulerB. Baffert3-1
Will he dominate like in Best Pal, or be shaky again like in Norfolk?
4Afleet AlexT. Ritchey4-1
Ran winning race in Champagne; why the indecision about this race?
5ConsolidatorD. W. Lukas8-1
Finally ran to expectations in Futurity; let's see him back that up
6OratorioA. O'Brien12-1
A three-time stakes winner, and the barn must always be respected
7RebuttalB. Meehan20-1
Was narrowly beaten in a Group 1 at Newmarket; has a dirt pedigree
8Diamond IsleK. McPeek20-1
He's going to have to do better than his clunk-up third at Keeneland
9Boston GloryE. Harty30-1
Easily second best in the Norfolk, but is an extreme longshot in this
10Bellamy RoadM. Dickinson30-1
He's no lock to participate in the wake of his meek race at Keeneland

- 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.