09/30/2008 11:00PM

As many questions as there are certainties


Considering the number of horsemen who say they're worried about being part of a full field in the Breeders' Cup Mile, maybe there won't even be a full field in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The prospect of being one among a 14-horse field going two turns on a tight Santa Anita grass course - and with a short run into the first turn a further factor - definitely lacks appeal. But someone will have luck, get the right trip, and actually win the race, won't they?

That said, none of the winners of all three major BC Mile preps from last weekend - Raven's Pass in the Queen Elizabeth II, Hyperbaric in the Oak Tree Mile, and Tam Lin in the Kelso - is a sure thing to start in the Mile.

At Ascot in England, Raven's Pass finally turned the tables on fellow 3-year-old Henrythenavigator, scoring a strong one-length win in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a Win and You're In race guaranteeing a Mile spot. Henrythenavigator had beaten Raven's Pass in their first three meetings this season, but Raven's Pass appears the more progressive horse right now. He has won consecutive one-mile stakes now, and captured the QE II even though Gosden had said Raven's Pass was targeting the Breeders' Cup and did not go into Saturday's race ready to produce a peak effort.

But Gosden's comments coming out of the QE II concerned the configuration of the BC Mile and the likelihood of a full field, and Gosden said Raven's Pass's connections were leaning toward the Classic over the Mile. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Henrythenavigator also will be considered for both the Mile and the Classic, and who knows the status of the Q E II's fourth-place finisher Tamayuz, who went into Saturday a leading BC Mile contender. Trainer Freddie Head said afterward that Tamayuz had become unsettled before the race, and that his fall campaign would be evaluated this week. Head also trains major Mile contender Goldikova, who also is possible for the Filly and Mare Turf.

At Santa Anita on Sunday, Hyperbaric won the Oak Tree Mile, another Win and You're In race, by a neck over fast-closing Tybalt, but Hyperbaric has not been eating to trainer Julio Canani's satisfaction since his victory.

"I'm going to play [the Mile] by ear, because that horse hasn't been eating that good since he's run," Canani said. "The weather's been so hot here. He really hasn't been eating like he was at Del Mar."

Hyperbaric is "dead fit," Canani said, and would not require much work to make the Mile if his connections point that direction.

Four-year-old Tybalt ran the best race of his 10-start career, closing very wide after racing at the back of the field behind a slow-ish early pace at Santa Anita. Tybalt, by Storm Cat out of Tuzla, made his first seven starts in England, racing five times on grass and twice on Polytrack. He won a May 10 second-level turf allowance race at Hollywood Park in his U.S. debut, and finished second by a neck in a third-level allowance in June. Sunday's race was his first since then, and trainer Bobby Frankel said he chose the Oak Tree Mile over an allowance race because Tybalt had looked good training.

Frankel, however, fears Tybalt lacks sufficient earnings to make the Mile field if the race oversubscribes. He also will be considered for the Dirt Mile, which, of course, is the Synthetic Mile this year at Santa Anita.

Tam Lin, another one-time English racer, won Sunday's Kelso over a soft course at Belmont Park by four lengths, but Rick Mettee, who oversees the New York-based Godolphin horses for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said Tam Lin was something of a Belmont course specialist.

"If they had one-turn turf races at Belmont all year, we'd have a lot of fun with this horse," Mettee said.

Mettee had yet to confer with bin Suroor about plans for Tam Lin, he said Wednesday, but also cited the BC Mile's two turns and crowded field as negative markers.

* The major Mile prep race this weekend, Saturday's Shadwell at Keeneland - also a Win and You're In race - drew a full field that looks somewhat below Grade 1 quality. Woodbine Mile winner Rahy's Attorney is entered, but is not expected to go to the BC Mile.