08/10/2006 12:00AM

Here's how they handicap in Europe


Englishmen playing the three international Grade 1 contests at Arlington on Saturday are likely to turn to Timeform for their handicapping information. Put yourself in their shoes for an example on how Timeform ratings are used across the pond.

In addition to ratings for any given race, Timeform awards every horse an overall rating. In most cases it is the same as a horse's best figure. Sometimes, however, it is higher, sometimes lower, depending on recent performances. The overall rating serves as a handicap weight for a mythical race within a given age group. Players must determine if they think a horse will run to that overall rating, taking into account distance, the state of the ground, the quality of the competition, and recent form. In races such as the Million, where all the horses are carrying the same weight and all are at least 4 years old, no adjustments need be made to the overall rating. If horses are carrying different weights, adjustments must be made accordingly. Having determined which horse will run closest to or better than his overall rating, one bets accordingly.

We will limit this exercise to the main contenders in each race.

Arlington Million: English Channel, 125 Timeform rating; Phoenix Reach, 124; Ace, 123; Cacique 122; Soldier Hollow, 121; The Tin Man, 121; Better Talk Now, 120; Touch of Land, 118.

English Channel, adept between nine and 12 furlongs, may yet prove to be best at 1 1/4 miles. He has, however, drawn widest of all, a factor that may bring him back to the pack. Phoenix Reach, absent for 13 months, earned his best ratings at 1 1/2 miles and may be sapped for speed. Ace has run no better than 121+ plus this year, but appears to do his best work in America. Cacique is ultra-consistent but was getting two pounds when beating English Channel by a half-length in the Manhattan. At equal weights in the United Nations, English Channel was a half-length better. All of Soldier Hollow's best races are at the Million distance. He was wisely prepped for speed in a one-mile Group 2 last time and could be sitting on a big race. Better Talk Now was 3 3/4 lengths behind English Channel in the United Nations while getting two pounds. He tries again here at equal weights. Touch of Land and The Tin Man are at their best in Grade 2 company.

With English Channel and Cacique drawn wide, Phoenix Reach in need of a race and going two furlongs short of his best, and Ace off form, Soldier Hollow looks like the value play.

Selections: 1. Soldier Hollow; 2. English Channel; 3. Cacique. Use Ace in exotics.

Beverly D.: Film Maker, 120; Gorella, 119; Wend, 118; Honey Ryder, 116; Live Life, 116; Sharp Lisa, 115; Rising Cross, 110.

The Timeform scale of weights calls for 3-year-olds to receive an eight-pound break from older horses going 1 3/16 miles in early August, so Rising Cross is running on a rating of 118. By the American scale of weights her adjusted rating would be closer to 115. Either way she comes up short as she is at her best going 1 1/2 miles, her listed 1 1/4-mile Lupe Stakes victory having come against much lesser than she faces here. Film Maker is in the same boat as English Channel, having drawn widest of all. Just a neck behind Ouija Board in third in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and with two sharp efforts since, she may be good enough to overcome her post. The talented Gorella has never been this far and must work out a trip from the rail, but she should never be overlooked. Wend has disappointed in her last two but beat Film Maker by a half-length getting five pounds in the 1 1/4-mile New York Handicap last summer. Honey Ryder earned her 116 winning the E.P. Taylor on a yielding surface. She moves up in the unlikely event of rain. Live Life failed in her first try in Grade 1 company against a field inferior to this one. Sharp Lisa beat a weak Grade 2 Santa Barbara field and has failed twice since then at the top level.

Selections: 1. Gorella; 2. Film Maker; 3. Wend. Use Honey Ryder in exotics.

Secretariat: Showing Up, 114; Go Between 112; Primary, 111p; Ivan Denisovich, 110; Proudinsky 107; Niagara Causeway, 102.

The "p" after Primary's 111 means that he is likely to improve. Lightly raced, he won a fast-paced 1 1/4-mile listed race last time in Milan. By Giant's Causeway, he is the most dangerous of all the foreign invaders. Showing Up beat subsequent Virginia Derby winner Go Between in the Colonial Turf Cup and should maintain that edge here. Ivan Denisovich has not really improved since last year. Proudinsky was well behind Go Between in the Virginia Derby. Niagara Causeway appears overmatched.

With Primary in receipt of seven pounds from Showing Up, he has an actual Timeform edge of 118-114.

Selections: 1. Primary; 2. Showing Up; 3. Go Between.