08/15/2005 12:00AM

Million Day gets Cup plans going

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Powerscourt might start in the Irish Champion before the Breeders' Cup.

CHICAGO - The featured race Wednesday at Arlington is an entry-level allowance for older horses. In attendance will be a fraction of the 28,321 fans who jammed the park Saturday. The Grade 1 horseflesh that dazzled over the weekend has flown the coop, the last two ship-ins, the French-based Million runners Touch of Land and Alost, having headed home Tuesday.

Gone even more quickly was the three-length winner, Powerscourt, who left for trainer Aidan O'Brien's Irish training center on Sunday night. But O'Brien, who did not travel for the Million, said Monday that Powerscourt could return for the Breeders' Cup Turf in October at Belmont.

"He's in the Irish Champion Stakes" - a 1 1/4-mile race at Leopardstown on Sept. 10 - "and may go in that," O'Brien said. "After that we're looking at the Breeders' Cup Turf. It's possible, however, that he won't run between now and the Breeders' Cup. We'll be having a talk with the owners in the next couple of days to decide matters."

Powerscourt once won at the Breeders' Cup Turf distance of 1 1/2 miles, but he looks more and more like a 1 1/4-mile specialist. In a post-Million interview, Powerscourt's jockey, Kieren Fallon, hinted that a truer mile-and-a-half horse named Scorpion might also be a Breeders' Cup candidate.

Favored Kitten's Joy exited his second-place Million finish in good physical condition, trainer Dale Romans said, and returned to Saratoga on Sunday. Co-owner Ken Ramsey affirmed shortly after the Million that Kitten's Joy still would travel to France for a start in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October, and Romans said Monday that the trip was "still in the cards."

"We just have to see how we go about it," said Romans. "I'd say he'd go pretty soon."

Making only his second start since October, Kitten's Joy made the lead at the top of the stretch Saturday, but was no match for Powerscourt in the final 200 yards.

"It's hard to take on the best horses in the world with only a mile prep," Romans said. "I was proud of the way he hung on for second."

Angara, who narrowly won the Beverly D. over the Bobby Frankel-trained pair of Megahertz and Melhor Ainda, also left Sunday for Saratoga and will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

"I'd say she'd run one more time in between," said trainer Patrick Biancone.

The 4-year-old Angara raced just two weeks after a third-place finish in the Diana at Saratoga, and won her first Grade 1.

"She came back in good shape," Biancone said. "I'm very proud of her. I think it was the best race of her life, but she's lightly raced anyway, and I expect she can maybe do some more of that."

The Chicago area is locked in drought, but rain Thursday and some drizzles between then and race day turned the Arlington turf course quite wet and tiring. Angara was timed in 1:58.30, slow for 1 3/16 miles, while Powerscourt went 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.38, and two races later Gun Salute won the Secretariat at the same distance in 2:03.79. Transposing his time onto the Million, one might infer that Gun Salute would have been competitive Saturday against any horse save Powerscourt, but his trainer, Bill Mott, is in no hurry to find out.

"We're not that anxious to try him with older horses," Mott said. "We're looking at the Hawthorne Derby or the Calder Derby, and then perhaps the Hollywood Derby. I mean, he's done plenty of running so far - we'll let him get his feet back under him, and see if there's not another one with his name on it at the end of the year."

Gun Salute has rejoined Mott's string at Churchill Downs, where he has spent much of this season.

While attendance was off about 2,100 from last year's Million Day, Arlington did well in terms of handle. Total handle on Saturday's races was $20,987,021, an increase of some 17 percent compared with 2004, and even ontrack handle increased marginally - to about $3.2 million - despite the attendance drop. Part of the total handle increase stemmed from Canadians betting directly into Arlington's pool, a practice that began only last week.

- additional reporting by Alan Shuback