10/23/2003 11:00PM

Mile: Six Perfections has right credentials

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Six Perfections has a reputation to uphold in Saturday's $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

As a top 3-year-old filly in Europe this year, she has earned her status as a leading contender. And as a homebred of the powerful Niarchos family of Europe, she has history on her side.

No owner has dominated a Breeders' Cup race the way the Niarchos family has the Mile. Between the late Stavros Niarchos and the family's Flaxman Holdings, which is now headed by daughter Maria Niarchos, the family's light and dark blue colors have won the Mile four times - with Miesque in 1987 and 1988, Spinning World in 1997, and Domedriver last year at Arlington Park.

With her outstanding pedigree and race record, Six Perfections has every chance to make it five on Saturday.

Her dam, Yogya, is a half-sister to Miesque, who earned $2,070,163 and has become a prolific broodmare. Six Perfections has won five stakes and never finished worse than second in nine starts.

The success has not been a surprise.

Alan Cooper, the racing manager for the Niarchos family, recalls that Six Perfections caught his eye three years ago as a weanling at the family's French farm.

"Looking back through our notes, as a foal she was very striking with great strength and presence about her," Cooper said. "She has grown to maintain that form."

Six Perfections was so brilliant as a 2-year-old - winning 3 of 4 starts, including the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac in Paris - that her losses this year have been as newsworthy as her wins.

After winning a minor stakes at Maisons-Laffitte in early April, she had bad luck and finished second in the English and Irish 1000 Guineas.

In England in early May, Six Perfections was finishing quickest at the wire but was beaten

1 1/2 lengths by Russian Rhythm after being bumped a quarter-mile from the finish and forced to alter course. The form of that race was flattered when Russian Rhythm returned to win the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

By then, Six Perfections had been beaten a nose by Yesterday in the Irish 1000 Guineas, despite being blocked on the rail two furlongs from the wire. Six Perfections rallied, but missed as a heavy favorite. Yesterday starts in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

"With a little luck, she would have won in Ireland and England," trainer Pascal Bary said.

Six Perfections finished second in the Group 2 Prix d'Astarte over a mile on Aug. 3 at Deauville, France. She returned two weeks later for the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois to defeat males such as Domedriver and French Oaks winner Nebraska Tornado, who went on to win the Group 1 Prix de Moulin de Longchamp against males.

"The best race was when she won the Jacques le Marois," Bary said of Six Perfections. "We didn't have any trouble. She fought to win and she fought to beat Domedriver."

Six Perfections's victory in the Jacques le Marois clinched her participation in the Breeders' Cup Mile, where she will face top English sprinter Oasis Dream, English 2000 Guineas winner Refuse to Bend, and North American stars Designed for Luck, Special Ring, and Perfect Soul.

Cooper said the win also helped erase her disappointments in England and Ireland.

"That's racing," he said. "That's why we enjoyed the success in August. She proved that she is a Group 1 3-year-old.

"We were always hoping that if she took her racing well, we'd be at Santa Anita. That was the plan."

To gain a further advantage, Jerry Bailey will ride Six Perfections. Bailey brings experience over the tighter U.S. turf courses, but is seeking his first win in a Breeders' Cup Mile. He has never ridden Six Perfections but says he is not concerned.

When Bailey rode Arcangues to an upset victory in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic, it was the first time he had ridden him.

"I didn't know if he was a bay or a gray until I saw him in the paddock," he said. "Most of the time, it is not an issue."

Cooper said the Mile is an ideal fit for the Niarchos racing program because horses can be tried in the Guineas stakes in England, France, and Ireland, and then challenge older horses in the summer. Only a few are sent to the Breeders' Cup, but the stable's success rate is remarkable.

"It's a race that fits the breeding and racing program, particularly the horses trained in France," he said. "It's a compliment to our program."