08/09/2006 12:00AM

English Channel's in

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Cacique has been training at Saratoga, but he'll try the Million.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Todd Pletcher finally left his position sitting on the fence Wednesday morning, committing turf star English Channel to the over the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, giving additional luster to Saturday's Grade 1 race here.

But while Pletcher's decision surely delighted Arlington officials, the random post-position draw later Wednesday morning was not exactly welcoming: English Channel, the 3-1 favorite on Arlington's morning line, was assigned post 11.

Pletcher, however, was not unnerved. "I'm happy with the post," he said. "I'd rather be outside than in [post] 1."

Pletcher said choosing the Million instead of the Sword Dancer was "a tough call."

"Right now, I think he's the divisional leader, and if we get lucky enough to win that race it'll really strengthen his position," Pletcher said.

English Channel, second in the Secretariat on Million Day last year, has the speed to get good position during the long run from the gate to the first turn, and his fierce American rival Cacique fared little better at Wednesday's draw, landing post 10.

"Oh, that's not good," trainer Bobby Frankel said when informed of Cacique's draw. "I'd rather have the inside."

English Channel and Cacique have faced each other in three consecutive races, trading decisions. Both will move in at least one position in the Million starting gate, since Pletcher entered two horses, and Go Deputy will stay home in New York. Major Rhythm, who also was a candidate to ship to Saratoga for the Sword Dancer, is keeping his spot in the Million, trainer Ed Beam said.

Outside post positions in two-turn turf races here aren't awful, but they're not great, either: Posts 1-5 in turf routes have produced winners at a 12 percent clip, while posts 6-12 have won at a 10 percent rate, and posts 8-12 at 8 percent.

English Channel, Cacique, and Better Talk Now form an excellent American nexus in the Million, with The Tin Man, the lone California representative and the likely pacesetter Saturday, landing post 2. The four Europeans in the race all drew well enough. Ace, who figures to be the shortest price among the Euros, has post 3, Touch of Land post 4, Soldier Hollow post 5, and Phoenix Reach post 6.

Eleven horses also were entered in the Beverly D., with two of the favorites forming bookends in the gate; Gorella, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, drew the rail, while Film Maker, listed at 4-1, has post 11. Honey Ryder, 3-1 and another strong chance for the Pletcher barn, drew post 6. The other eight horses in the race all are at least 10-1 on the line. With little rain in the forecast this week, and dry conditions predicted Saturday, trainer Bill Mott entered Wend instead of soft-turf-loving Angara.

Mott also has one of the big two in the Secretariat, which drew only six entries. Go Between, who starts for Mott, is matched for the second time this summer against Showing Up, whose lone loss came in the Kentucky Derby. Showing Up scored a comfortable win over Go Between in the June 24 Colonial Turf Cup, but Go Between won well July 15 in the Virginia Derby, a race Showing Up skipped.

Arlington's 12-race card begins at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, with the Beverly D., race 8, the first of the three Grade 1's. The Million follows as race 9, and the Secretariat goes as race 11. The Beverly D. and the Million make up half of an NTRA National Pick 4 wager that also includes the Sword Dancer and the Alfred Vanderbilt at Saratoga. The National Pick 4 has a guaranteed $500,000 pool and offers a $1 minimum wager.

Arlington also is offering a guaranteed $250,000 pick four on the day's last four races, beginning with the Million.

- additional reporting by David Grening