09/28/2006 12:00AM

Marchand d'Or a threat to Caradak


PARIS - A competitive renewal Saturday of the Group 1, $320,000 Prix de la Foret over Longchamp's seven furlongs should make a perfect Breeders' Cup Mile prep for European hopefuls. The race will be without the Godolphin-owned Iffraaj, but will feature that organization's Caradak, the horse who beat George Washington into third place in Goodwood's Celebration Mile in his last start.

Although earmarked for the Hong Kong Mile on Dec. 10, Caradak could still be re-routed to Churchill Downs if Librettist, Godolphin's most earnest Mile candidate, is unable to return to full form by the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup. Second by just a head to Court Masterpiece in last year's Foret, Caradak will be aided by the invaluable services of jockey Frankie Dettori.

Waiting to pounce are a trio of French-trained entries, the most dangerous of whom is course-and-distance specialist Marchand d'Or. Trained by Fredie Head - best remembered in America for his two winning Breeders' Cup Mile rides aboard the great Miesque - Marchand d'Or has won twice going seven furlongs at Longchamp at the Group 3 level, but reached a peak last time winning the 6 1/2-furlong Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. He may have an edge over Caradak.

The Pascal Bary-trained Price Tag, disqualified from first in the French 1000 Guineas, is coming off a course-and-distance win over older colts in the Group 3 Prix du Pin, while the Prix Jacques le Marois runner-up Stormy River, trained by Nicolas Clement, should be in the mix.

Touch of Land, trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, will be going after an unprecedented third straight win in the Group 2, 1 1/8-mile and 165-yard Prix Dollar. Most recently eighth in the Arlington Million, he will have an easier time of it in the $165,000 Dollar, but the selection is the Million's third-place finisher, Soldier Hollow. A Peter Schiergen-trained British-bred, he looks likely to get the good ground he prefers and should take the measure of Manduro, who always seems to find one better than himself.

The $165,000 Prix Daniel Wildenstein, a Group 2 mile that theoretically should also be capable of producing Breeders' Cup Mile candidates, has come up weak this year. Echo of Light, a Dubai Millennium 4-year-old who has won the Summer Mile and the 1 1/8-mile Strensall Stakes, both Group 3 events at York this season, gets a lukewarm vote over Notability, winner of the Group 3 Oettingen-Rennen, and Hello Sunday, winner of the Group 3 Prix Quincey, although trainer Andre Fabre may have an ace in the hole in his late-blooming maiden winner Only Him.

Short Skirt finished third in the English Oaks and second in the Yorkshire Oaks, chasing home the redoubtable Alexandrova in both instances. A Diktat filly trained by Michael Stoute, she will not be facing anything as good in the 1 9/16-mile Group 2 Prix de Royallieu and so is selected to beat Montare, who was a distant second last time to Sunday's Prix de l'Opera hotshot Mandesha in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Prix Vermeille.

Only eight enter Arc

The smallest field in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe history was confirmed on Thursday when just eight names were dropped into the entry box for the Group 1, $2.55 million contest. The defending champ in the 1 1/2-mile race, Hurricane Run, will be joined by his Andre Fabre-trained stablemates Shirocco and Rail Link. They will face Japanese invader Deep Impact, the dangerous mare Pride, St. Leger winner Sixties Icon, and local dark horses Best Name and Irish Wells in what promises to be a high-quality 85th running of the Arc on Sunday. Good ground should prevail if the recent fine weather in Paris holds up as forecast.