Updated on 09/15/2011 1:16PM

Mile: Looks like everyone's in


ELMONT, N.Y. - The defection of No Excuse Needed from the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 27 for a major race in England on Saturday opens a position for Sarafan, the last horse attempting to gain a berth to the oversubscribed Mile.

Even though there were 19 pre-entries for the Mile, only 14 horses were considered probable as of Thursday. Four pre-entered horses are expected in other races - Banks Hill and Crystal Music in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Hap and Slew Valley in the Turf.

No Excuse Needed was entered for Saturday's Champion Stakes at Newmarket, England. He won the Group 2 Celebration Mile in England on Aug. 25.

Sarafan is ranked fourth on a secondary list of horses eligible to the Mile, but will gain a berth with the expected defections of Banks Hill, Hap, and Crystal Music and the absence of No Excuse Needed. Slew Valley is fifth on the secondary list.

Express Tour, the winner of the UAE Derby last March; Crystal Music, who is winless in four starts this year in Europe; and Bach, a two-time stakes winner in Ireland this year, are ahead of Sarafan on the secondary list.

Noverre, who won the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, England, on Aug. 1, and was second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 29, is the likely favorite in the Mile. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Noverre is owned by Godolphin Racing and will be making his United States debut in the Mile.

Sarafan justified an entry to the Breeders' Cup Mile with a second to Forbidden Apple in the Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. A 4-year-old, Sarafan won the restricted Harry Brubaker Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 17, his only stakes win in six starts in the U.S.

Owned by London financier Gary Tanaka, Sarafan is considered the weaker of trainer Neil Drysdale's two hopes for the Mile. Drysdale also starts Irish Prize, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile last June at Hollywood Park. Drysdale won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs with War Chant, who has since been retired to stud.

The Shoemaker was the middle leg of a three-race winning streak that included the Fastness Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 4. Since that race, he has made one start, finishing fourth in the Atto Mile at Woodbine in early September, losing by a length to Mile hopeful Numerous Times.

"He's coming up to it well," Drysdale said. "The rest was deliberate. It was not a forced rest."

On Thursday, Irish Prize worked a half-mile on turf in 48.02 seconds.

Forbidden Apple worked a half-mile in 47.26 seconds. Both Irish Prize and Forbidden Apple are among the top U.S. hopes for the Mile. Of the two, Irish Prize has had a more lucrative year, banking $699,510.

Forbidden Apple was seventh in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile, losing by 2 1/2 lengths to War Chant. The Kelso is his only start of 2001 over a mile, preceded by a win in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on June 9 and a fifth in the Bowling Green Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on July 7.

"I think from a mile to a mile and a quarter, he's a versatile horse," trainer Christophe Clement said.

A winner of $394,500 this year, Forbidden Apple will be making his fourth start of 2001 in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

6-year-old Forbidden Apple developed into a top-class horse last fall when he won the Belmont Breeders' Cup and Kelso handicaps. He was pointed for a fall campaign following the loss in the Bowling Green.

"He doesn't like the heat," Clement said. "He trains better in the fall. He likes the cold."

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