08/17/2001 12:00AM

It's not too early to look at odds for fall's big races


NEW YORK - The Arlington Million on Saturday signaled the start of the international racing season that culminates with the World Thoroughbred Championships and the late-autumn festivals in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

British bookies at Coral Eurobet were on the ball this weekend, being the first British company to open a book on the Championships. They have installed Fantastic Light as the 4-1 favorite for the Breeders' Cup Turf with Bienamado at 6-1, King Cugat 8-1, With Anticipation 10-1, and Blueprint, Mutamam, and Quiet Resolve all at 16-1.

Bienamado's odds will surely plunge if he wins the Million. As for Fantastic Light, he has been earmarked by Godolphin for the Turf, but it should be noted that he has never won a Group 1 or Grade 1 contest going 1 1/2 miles.

Fifth in last year's Turf, Fantastic Light is scheduled to hook up with his King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes conqueror Galileo in the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 8.

Additional Turf clues will be forthcoming in the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sept. 2 and, of course, in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7. The Arc is also on the dance card of Fantastic Light, who faces a busy fall campaign with possible trips to the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Cup in search of a repeat Emirates World Series Racing Championship crown.

In spite of his struggling victory in the Haskell Invitational, Point Given is listed by Coral as the 5-2 choice in the BC Classic while Galileo has been eased up from 9-4 to 3-1. Next are Belmont course specialist Albert the Great at 6-1, Tiznow 12-1, Captain Steve and Lido Palace both 14-1, and E Dubai 16-1.

After his return bout with Fantastic Light in the Irish Champion, Galileo will be dropped an additional quarter of a mile into the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 29. That will serve as his final prep for the Classic, which is Coolmore's and Aidan O'Brien's main autumn objective for Galileo.

O'Brien and his patrons, Michael Tabor and John Magnier, are also pointing to the Sprint with Mozart. Coral, however, discounts the chances of the recent winner of the six-furlong Group 1 July Cup, quoting Mozart at 10-1. Coral offers defending champ Kona Gold at 11-4, then has Caller One at 4-1, City Zip

8-1, and El Corredor 14-1. Five Star Day, Peeping Tom, Say Florida Sandy, Squirtle Squirt, and Victory Ride can all be had at 20-1.

Mozart's road to Belmont Park will begin on Thursday at York, where he will drop down to the five furlongs of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, in which he will be facing a number of Britain's inconsistent sprinters.

The five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp on Arc Day would be the likely final warm-up for Mozart or any other European Sprint hopeful.

Irish Prize is Coral's 6-1 favorite for the Mile. There are plenty of nice prices to choose from in this traditional crapshoot with Hap at 7-1, Noverre 8-1, Banks Hill 10-1, and Affirmed Success, Forbidden Apple, and Jim and Tonic all 14-1. White Heart is 20-1 while Brahms and North East Bound are available at 25-1.

Attention should be paid to Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, where Coronation Stakes winner Banks Hill, Sussex Stakes winner Noverre, and Vahorimix - who was vaulted into first in the French 2000 Guineas after the drug positive disqualification of Noverre - all do battle.

The next big European prep for the Mile will be the the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp on Sept. 9, followed by the Queen Elizabeth II.

Astra's 3-1 price for the Filly and Mare Turf looked good on the eve of her appearance in the Beverly D. Surprisingly, this race really hasn't caught on with European trainers in its first two runnings. The Ed Dunlop-trained Lailani is the only announced foreign filly for this year's 1 3/8-mile race. Her wins in the 1 1/2-mile Irish Oaks and the 1 1/4-mile Nassau Stakes have earned her a rather generous Coral quote of 12-1, a price she shares with Keemoon. Penny's Gold and Tranquility Lake are listed at 10-1. Colstar and Janet are both 14-1, as is the Christophe Clement-trained England's Legend, who looks like value at that price off her victory in the New York Handicap.

Advance betting with British bookies is one of the things that makes racing in England such a delight. The odds offered are always a great deal more favorable than the pinched prices offered by Las Vegas and, come Oct. 1, there will be no tax on winnings.

A rule of thumb when placing any bet on the World Thoroughbred Championships, even on the day of the races, is to look for a British bookies' price if your selection is an American-trained horse. Converse-ly, if you like a European horse, especially one that is trained in England, your best chance at value will probably lie with the friendly parimutuel teller at your local track, as British bettors tend, like every other national group, to bet their own.