08/09/2007 12:00AM

Euros can collect the loot

Email

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Ciro, in 2000, was the only overseas shipper to win the Secretariat Stakes, but Saturday's 31st running of the Secretariat looks ripe for foreign picking.

With two $1 million turf races for 3-year-olds now held annually at Colonial Downs, and the Hall of Fame Stakes contested at Saratoga earlier this week, not all the best U.S. 3-year-old turf horses automatically assemble in the Grade 1, $400,000 Secretariat. And it's not like there's a glut of grass horses on the market, either.

So, while top American contenders Red Giant and Lattice aren't pushovers, they have accomplished much less than recent Secretariat winners Showing Up, Kitten's Joy, and Kicken Kris. That could provide an opening for one of two Europeans, Admiralofthefleet and Shamdinan.

Nine in all were entered in the Secretariat, which is contested over 1 1/4 miles, with Going Ballistic, Love Dubai, Mostacolli Mort, and Pleasant Strike joining Red Giant and Lattice in the North American contingent, and Fleeting Shadow in from Ireland. The winner earns a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf thanks to the Breeders' Cup's new "Win and You're In" provision.

Admiralofthefleet ran poorly in his major test this year, finishing 10th of 17 in the Epsom Derby, but his best effort should make him competitive. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, who sent Ivan Denisovich out to a second-place finish in this race last year, Admiralofthefleet won the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes by more than two lengths to cap off his 2-year-old season, and tallied a two-length win earlier this year in the Group 3 Dee Stakes, a Derby prep. Most recently, he was fifth of eight facing Group 1 older horses in the Eclipse Stakes. O'Brien will equip Admiralofthefleet with blinkers and race him on Lasix on Saturday, with Mick Kinane named to ride.

Shamdinan's major effort in a five-start career was a good third of 20 in the French Derby earlier this year, and he had raced consistently well before a bad defeat July 1 in the Irish Derby. Shamdinan subsequently was sold privately by the Aga Khan to Triple B Farms, and will join trainer Doug O'Neill's string in California after Saturday.

"I don't know much about him," O'Neill said. "I guess he just did not take to the turf in the Irish Derby, but they said the horse came out of it great, vetted out great, and we're going off his form on firmer ground."

Fleeting Shadow races for ace Irish trainer Dermot Weld, but he has done little to suggest he can be a significant factor.

Lattice won the American Derby here in a career-best effort, and with only five starts may still have room to develop. Trainer Bill Mott said Lattice has done well between starts, but expressed concern over a wet turf course.

"I don't know that that's going to be in our favor," Mott said.

Red Giant won the Virginia Derby by a nose three weeks ago and paid $76, an astronomical price for a Todd Pletcher-trained winner. But while Pletcher said he "had the Virginia Derby" in mind for Red Giant, the Secretariat comes up sooner than would be ideal. "My biggest concern is he's coming back in three weeks," said Pletcher.

Still, Red Giant has won 4 of 5 grass starts and finished second in his lone loss.

"He's a horse who keeps getting better," Pletcher said.

Also from the Pletcher barn is Pleasant Strike, winner of the Arlington Classic but a flat fourth in the American Derby.

"We couldn't make a whole lot of excuse for the race," said Pletcher.

Going Ballistic finished well for second in the American Derby, and also could make his presence felt late in the race.