08/03/2008 11:00PM

Million field looks like 8 or 9


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - While last Friday's Arlington Million pre-entry deadline has long since come and gone, the composition of the field for Saturday's Million remained - to a somewhat surprising degree - in flux as of Monday.

There were 10 horses pre-entered for the Million at a cost of $5,000 per owner, but the race could still go with as few as eight starters. Cosmonaut, one of the pre-entries, was scratched out of Sunday's Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga and finished second here last month in the Arlington Handicap, the local Million prep, but despite those overt hints to the contrary, none of that means Cosmonaut is coming to the Million. In fact, trainer Carlos Martin said it was 90 percent certain that Cosmonaut would pass the race here and wait for a future spot.

"The [Arlington Handicap] looked like it knocked him out a little," Martin said. "I'd like to get him back to where he's tearing the barn down again."

The other horse who may or may not wind up here this week is Out of Control, one of two pre-entries from the barn of trainer Bobby Frankel. Out of Control worked five furlongs on Saratoga's main track in 1:01 on Sunday morning and "is doing great," Frankel said Monday. But Frankel is still mulling Out of Control's options and said he's also considering the Pacific Classic, which would mark Out of Control's first start on a synthetic track.

"He's won on dirt, he's won on turf," Frankel said. "I think he'd run on anything. The one thing I'm scared of going to Chicago would be soft turf."

The Arlington course will not be summertime rock hard, since much rain fell in the area Sunday night into Monday and could continue through Tuesday evening. But after that, dry conditions are forecast through Million Day.

Frankel said he planned on conferring with Out of Control's owner, Goncalo Torrealba, before making a decision on whether to ship to Chicago. The flight transporting New York-based horses leaves Wednesday and will include the Frankel-trained Sudan.

Einstein, perhaps the top U.S.-based horse in the race, worked Sunday at Churchill and will spend most of this week here at Arlington.

Archipenko, who might well wind up the race favorite, has settled right in after shipping Friday from England.

"He traveled very well," said Trevor Brown, assistant to trainer Mike de Kock.

After clearing quarantine, Archipenko went to Arlington's training track Sunday, took one lap around the main track Monday, and will have a turf breeze Tuesday morning.

Clement still undecided on Gio Ponti

Still no word as of Monday on the status of Gio Ponti, who would be favored in the Secretariat Stakes on Saturday if he ships from New York. Gio Ponti won the Virginia Derby last month and clearly is one of the top 3-year-old turf horses in the country, but trainer Christophe Clement is leery of bringing him back in the Secretariat just 20 days after a hard-fought victory at Colonial Downs.

Clement said last Friday that he probably would decide Monday whether Gio Ponti would ship here Wednesday, but early Monday afternoon, Clement deferred that decision for another day.

"I was supposed to breeze him today, but he didn't breeze," Clement said. "I might work him tomorrow, and we will have to see after that."

Several horsemen are waiting to see if Gio Ponti stays home or ships before deciding whether to enter the Secretariat on Wednesday. If Gio Ponti's connections pass on the race, it would leave Tizdejavu as a defined favorite.

Catalano enjoys big day, targets another

Sunday morning, trainer Wayne Catalano climbed aboard Dreaming of Anna for her major Beverly D. work, guiding her through a seven-furlong Polytrack drill in 1:24.40. Sunday afternoon, Catalano went out and had himself a day, winning four of the nine races with Frank Calabrese-owned horses on Arlington's Sunday card. A fifth Catalano-Calabrese horse was beaten a nose.

The win bonanza gave Catalano 41 wins from only 91 starters at the meet. Seventy of those 91 runners have finished third or better.

Now, Catalano and Calabrese turn their attention to the Beverly D., a rare opportunity to win one of Arlington's top races. Dreaming of Anna, who may wind up third choice in the race behind Precious Kitten and Mauralakana, completed her major preparations with Sunday's breeze. She broke off quickly for the work, going her first furlong in less than 12 seconds, but Catalano said he "got her settled after the first part." Dreaming of Anna goes back to the track Tuesday and might gallop on turf later in the week, Catalano said.

Sky Mom staying at Arlington

Sky Mom came out of her Arlington Oaks win Saturday in good shape, and for the time being will remain at Arlington, trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday. Future plans for the filly haven't yet been set, but Asmussen said the options probably are limited to Ontario Colleen Stakes on Aug. 30 at Woodbine or the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes on Sept. 20 at Philadelpia Park.

Sky Mom rallied strongly coming off the far turn and ran down pacesetting Dreaming of Liz to win by a length. In so doing, Sky Mom continued to prove her consistency at various distances, on both turf and synthetic surfaces, and at venues all over the country. Asmussen said the Oaks scratch of Rasierra, who figured keep Dreaming of Liz busy on the lead, could have hurt Sky Mom, but he elected not to change the closing style she had employed in a good second-place finish last month in the Iowa Oaks.

"I thought it was a key scratch that didn't favor us," Asmussen said. "I was really proud of her."

- additional reporting by David Grening