10/23/2007 12:00AM

Excellent Art must overcome post 13

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - The Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh, a two-time Breeders' Cup winner, delivered the assessment with a smile, even if the assessment was a dour one.

"It's not good," Murtagh said. "Not good at all."

Murtagh's Breeders' Cup Mile mount, Excellent Art, had just been installed as the narrow track morning-line favorite for the race. He also had landed post 13.

Excellent Art is a legitimate choice to take the Mile, based on a win in the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes in mid-June, and close second-place finishes behind leading European miler Ramonti in his two most recent outings, both major Group 1 races.

But although Excellent Art prefers to fall back early and come with one dashing run, the prospect of breaking from the far outside displeased Murtagh.

"It's a tight course, from what I understand," Murtagh said of Monmouth's seven-furlong grass oval. "I'd have loved to have an inside draw."

Of course, there is one post worse than the 13-hole in a 14-horse field, and it was Remarkable News who drew the far outside slot. Remarkable News has plenty of pace, but trainer Angel Penna insists his horse only has wound up on the lead by default. Breaking from just inside the parking lot, jockey Ramon Dominguez will have little choice but to send Remarkable News for position.

Still, outside posts don't spell doom in the Mile - far from it, in fact. While a horse drawn in 13 or 14 has never won the race, the winner of the last five Miles has left either from post 11 or 12.

The draw was quite kind to After Market, who could easily wind up a narrow favorite in the Mile. He and jockey Alex Solis have post 3, which looks ideal.

"That's a good draw," said trainer John Shirreffs. "He can get going out of the gate and take a decent position."

After Market's luck held through the draw, but now he will have to sweat out the weather. Shirreffs and owner Marty Wygod scratched After Market from the Arlington Million because of wet turf, and there is rain in the local forecast. Still, Shirreffs said he had walked the turf course and was pleased with its condition. If only a moderate amount of rain were to fall in the next couple days, After Market probably would be fine.

The Mile wound up with a full field of 14 even without Precious Kitten, who went to the Filly and Mare Turf, leaving longshot My Typhoon as the race's lone female.