10/02/2003 11:00PM

Many BC hopefuls on Arc undercard


PARIS - Five Group 1 races on the Arc undercard will provide clues as to which Europeans will be at Santa Anita Oct. 25 for the Breeders' Cup. Most important to keep an eye on are the $292,000 Prix de l'Opera and the $234,000 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.

Bright Sky, Ana Marie, and Yesterday, all possible for the Filly and Mare Turf, were withdrawn from the Arc for a try in the 1 1/4-mile Opera for fillies and mares.

Defending champ Bright Sky, the winner of the one-mile Prix d'Astarte over Six Perfections, can repeat in her first try at 10 furlongs since her four-length triumph in last year's Opera. In Ana Marie, the Elie Lellouche-trained filly faces a dangerous rival who has beaten males at the Group 2 level and was a good second to the excellent Russian Rhythm last time in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes.

Yesterday ran Mezzo Soprano to a head in the Prix Vermeille last time, but is facing better than she ever has before in her checkered career.

After Oasis Dream's impressive victory in the five-furlong Nunthorpe Stakes in August, trainer John Gosden said that his star sprinter would have just one more race before embarking for Santa Anita and the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

But after Oasis Dream was caught late in the six-furlong Haydock Sprint Cup by Somnus, Gosden decided to try Oasis Dream in the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye.

Soft ground would not do Oasis Dream any favors. Still, he should prevail over Somnus, as well as Lochridge and Airwave, who were third and sixth in the Diadem Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 27.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Necklace, already the winner of the Group 3 Debutante and the Group 1 Moyglare Stud, must find a way to defeat 16 rival 2-year-olds in Sunday's $292,000 Prix Marcel Boussac. Necklace comes from a staying family (Darshaan) but could be vulnerable to the undefeated Green Noon.

Sunday's seven-furlong $410,000 Grand Criterium, renamed this year as the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in honor of the late French owner-breeder, has come up weak, as most of Europe's best juvenile colts have opted for the Middle Park Stakes or the Dewhurst Stakes in England. The Andre Fabre-trained Diamond Green, unbeaten in three starts, is slightly preferred to stablemate Charming Prince and Acropolis, the best of three O'Brien entrants.

A victory by Persian Punch in the 2 1/2-mile $234,000 Prix du Cadran would be the crowning achievement of the 10-year-old gelding's career. He scored his 11th and 12th group race victories in the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup this year, and would be a highly popular winner for trainer David Elsworth, who may be remembered most for his work with the famous gray steeplechaser Desert Orchid.