Updated on 09/17/2011 5:35PM

Field wide open as ever, with Six Perfections planning a title defense


The $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Mile is a perennial fan favorite primarily because of its well-earned reputation as a handicapping smorgasbord. The race habitually oversubscribes, the full field of 14 invariably is evenly matched, the favorite is usually a fat price, and the myriad factors that go into the actual running of the race almost always appeal to the sensibilities of racing fans.

The Mile once again looks as untamed as the great state in which it will be run for the first time.

Last year, it was the French filly Six Perfections who emerged from a mad scramble to win the Mile at Santa Anita. One of at least a half-dozen European horses still under consideration for the Mile, Six Perfections, now 4, is winless in three starts this year, and a successful defense of her title seems improbable, although certainly not impossible. Six Perfections finished second as a lukewarm favorite in her latest race, the Group 1 Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15, and trainer Pascal Bary has indicated to European racing officials that he hopes to run her off that layoff in the Mile - the identical schedule he used last year, when Six Perfections won both races.

If she makes it to Dallas, Six Perfections would try to become the fourth two-time winner of the Mile, following Miesque (1987-88), Lure (1992-93), and Da Hoss (1996 and '98). No other Breeders' Cup event has had more than one two-time winner.

As for the major European prep for the Mile, that comes Saturday with the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Royal Ascot. The solid QE II favorite, Soviet Song, already has been ruled out of the Mile, but at least five Mile hopefuls are scheduled to try him: Ace, Antonius Pius, Diamond Green, Refuse to Bend, and Le Vie dei Colori.

Other European possibilities for the Mile include the fillies Chic and Grey Lilas, and the 3-year-old colt Whipper.

The sizable cast of North American hopefuls figures to narrow considerably on the pivotal afternoon of Oct. 9, when all three of the major Mile preps will be run: the Kelso BC Handicap at Belmont, the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, and the Oak Tree BC Mile.

Among the U.S. horses vying for spots in the Mile are Blackdoun, a 3-year-old who is unbeaten in three Stateside starts; Nothing to Lose, winner of the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga in his last race; Peace Rules, an earner of more than $3 million; Silver Tree, a highly consistent 4-year-old trained by Bill Mott; Singletary, a two-time stakes winner in California this year; and Special Ring, who won the Grade 1 Eddie Read at Del Mar off a nine-month layoff.

Two U.S. trainers hold particularly strong hands: Bobby Frankel has three legitimate prospects with Nothing to Lose, Peace Rules, and Leroidesanimaux, while Julio Canani has two top contenders in Blackdoun and Special Ring.

Canada also appears to be well represented this year with Soaring Free and Perfect Soul, the one-two finishers in the Atto Mile last weekend. Soaring Free, trained by Mark Frostad, has won six of seven starts this year, with his lone defeat coming on dirt.

Mile Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 mile (turf). Purse: $1.5 million.

1Grey LilasA. Fabre8-1
Too early to tell which Euros will come; she'd be a leading contender
2Six PerfectionsP. Bary5-1
Sensational winning this last year; doesn't seem the same this year
3Special RingJ. Canani6-1
On his day, he is still the best in this country going a mile on the turf
4Diamond GreenA. Fabre12-1
Very sharp finishing second to Grey Lilas in the Prix du Moulin
5Refuse To BendS. bin Suroor6-1
Likely to come, but performs either really good, or really, really bad
6ChicSir M. Stoute8-1
Ran the best races of her life last month in England; dangerous
7WhipperR. Collet10-1
Beaten favorite in the Prix du Moulin has been pointing to this race
8SingletaryD. Chaltos Jr.10-1
Ran some strong races at this distance earlier this year in California
9Nothing to LoseR. Frankel15-1
Proved in the Fourstardave that he is best making one big late run
10Silver TreeW. Mott15-1
There is very little to choose between him and Nothing to Lose

- Odds and commentary by Mike Watchmaker.