11/02/2006 12:00AM

Gorella one of many possibilities


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the exception of Todd Pletcher fans, there is something for everyone in this year's edition of the Breeders' Cup Mile. And for those who have a strong opinion, value should be had.

In a full field of 14 in the $2.17 million Mile, the post-time favorite could be around 7-2 or 4-1. It's anybody's guess who that favorite will be, however. It definitely won't be a Todd Pletcher trainee, because this is the only one of the eight Breeders' Cup races in which he doesn't have a runner.

Some will gravitate to Gorella, the only filly in the field, who finished a troubled third in this race last year and whose devastating late kick has made her a fan favorite. She was beaten just three-quarters of a length in this race last year, when she was forced to steady repeatedly in the stretch. Since then, she has won four of five graded stakes, including her last three.

"Last year she was a different horse - she was a beautiful loser," said trainer Patrick Biancone, who is 0 for 15 in the Breeders' Cup. "Now she's a beautiful winner. That's the difference. She's on the top of her game. We're very happy with her. Now we have to be lucky and have a good trip."

Gorella, owned by Martin Schwartz, is a closer and figures to be last in the early stages of the race. Thus, breaking from post 12 will likely not hinder her. She will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, the leading rider in the country in terms of wins.

"If you ask all the trainers, everybody wants to draw 6, 7, 8," Biancone said. "Unfortunately only three horses can draw 6, 7, 8. We're very happy. She's come into the race in top form. We got a top jockey, a top horse."

The last time the Breeders' Cup was held at Churchill Downs, in 2000, War Chant won the Mile from post 11 as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite. Neil Drysdale trained War Chant, and on Saturday he will saddle Aragorn from post 7.

Aragorn, an Irish-bred 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, has won four consecutive graded stakes. The biggest knock on Aragorn may be that he has not beaten much on the West Coast, but he has done it easier than it may look on paper. He displayed great acceleration in winning the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Oak Tree Mile in his last two starts. Drysdale said he believes he's bringing a fresh and versatile horse to the Mile.

"He's very adaptable," said Drysdale. "He's won from just off the lead, on the lead, going on the outside or coming up the inside. In that respect, he's very adept."

Seven of the 14 runners in the Mile are based in Europe. With Europe's top Miler, George Washington, running in the Classic, Araafa now becomes the leader of the pack.

Araafa, a 3-year-old son of Mull of Kintyre, finished second to George Washington in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in September. Earlier in the year, Araafa defeated George Washington in the Irish 2000 Guineas and also defeated Group 1 runners in the St. James's Palace Stakes.

Trainer Jeremy Noseda has expressed supreme confidence in Araafa and certainly wasn't upset to see rain hit the Louisville area Wednesday. Noseda said he believes Araafa can handle any type of ground, but noted that a soft or yielding turf course may hinder the competition.

"I don't think any ground bothers him," said Noseda, who has tabbed John Velazquez to ride. "Looking at the race, a soft turf course wouldn't be a problem to us, but it would play against a few of the others."

Trainer Aidan O'Brien sends out both Aussie Rules and Ad Valorem in the Mile. Aussie Rules has already shipped to North America and been successful, winning the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last month. That was his first race with Lasix and blinkers.

"We put blinkers on him because he was a horse, when he went to the front, he'd wait on horses," O'Brien said.

Garrett Gomez will have to navigate a trip on Aussie Rules from post 14.

Ad Valorem finished a late-running third in the Woodbine Mile in September despite losing a shoe. His only win this year came in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Godolphin Racing has two contenders in Librettist and Echo of Light. Librettist has won 5 of 6 this year, and Echo of Light has won his last two. Rob Roy and Sleeping Indian complete the European contingent.

Miesque's Approval, 7, and Free Thinking, 5, are longshots, but both have won over this course. Badge of Silver could be the speed of the race, but has not run in 307 days. Silent Name and Super Frolic complete the field.