09/16/2005 12:00AM

Grand Survival should relish a mile


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Futurity at Arlington Park once was the richest horse race in the country. Just last week, Bill Thayer, a longtime Arlington employee, dug out a photocopy of the program from Futurity Day, 1965: Buckpasser was marked a short-priced winner.

These days, the Arlington-Washington Futurity either is a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, or just a nice chance for decent regional 2-year-olds to run for a $200,000 purse. The closing-day co-feature here Sunday, along with the Lassie, the 71st Futurity drew 10 entrants, a field with two stakes winners and six horses that have only won a maiden race.

But one of those maiden winners, Grand Survival, might lead the pack in raw talent. He fetched a bid of $1 million from Gulf Coast Farms at the Barrett's sale last March, and won his debut Aug. 6 at Saratoga, beating Cab and Superfly, both talented colts.

Trainer Patrick Biancone is convinced Grand Survival wants to run farther. "He's a lovely horse, and he's bred to go long," said Biancone.

The question is whether to push toward the Breeders' Cup. "The answer will be on Sunday afternoon," he said.

Patrick Byrne also has one eye on the Breeders' Cup. Byrne trains Sorcerer's Stone, who has two races to Grand Survival's one, and might be further along in his development. Sorcerer's Stone won his debut July 3 at Churchill over Private Vow - a major player in the Futurity at Belmont this weekend - and came back with a promising victory in the Honest Pleasure here July 31.

"He's so relaxed in the mornings," Byrne said. "He's kind of a scopey colt. His pedigree says he would be better at 3, and the indications are he would want more ground."

Yet Sorcerer's Stone has speed, having raced on or near the lead in two short sprints.

"I'm hoping he will get to relax this time," Byrne said. "He's kind of push-button."

The Arlington-based Charley Tango is 2 for 2, and already has won over Futurity's one-mile distance, but he will be tested for class Sunday.

"He's training great, and he's learning as he goes," said trainer Mike Stidham. "He's going to have to step up."

Red Raymond won the Ellis Park Juvenile in his last start, but was helped by a speed duel that set up the race for him.

"He worked good last Saturday, galloped out in 1:13 and change," said trainer Bob Holthus.

Mondavi and Mr. Pinstripe are longshots with a chance.