Updated on 09/17/2011 11:12AM

Million field one of best yet

Perfect Drift has post 6 in the Arlington Million and should press the leader under Pat Day.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There were nattily attired, attractive young women wielding cereal-box-sized name cards. There were cut-glass markers under which post-position numbers were buried. There was a stirring video for each horse and a cavalcade of assistant trainers and head lads brought forward to stand in front of an audience, mainly media members who were munching lunch.

The Arlington Million post-position draw was dressed to the nines, but underneath the staging, a jewel of a race glitters. Thirteen horses were entered Wednesday for the 21st Million, one of strongest editions of the race.

Before the draw for the Million, post positions were assigned for Saturday's other Grade 1 turf races at Arlington Park, the $700,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat.

Eight horses were entered in the Beverly D., including two from trainer Bobby Frankel, who waited until the last minute before tipping his hand. Frankel has a Juddmonte Farms horse from each coast, Heat Haze from the East, Tates Creek from the West. These two, plus Dublino, form the Beverly D. core.

The Secretariat drew a field of 12 that bettors will find difficult to figure out. They will have incentive to try, though, with a $250,000-guaranteed pick four linking the three Grade 1's and a first-level allowance race. First on the graded stakes menu is the Beverly D. (race 8), followed by the Million (race 10), and the Secretariat (race 11).

Post time for Saturday's 12-race program is 12:05 p.m. Central. Partly cloudy and unseasonably cool temperatures are forecast for race day, and the grass course should be quite firm. The Beverly D. and Million are part of an ESPN telecast that begins at 4.

There are more Europeans, eight in all, than have ever run in one Million. And among them is the best European horse ever to ship here for the race, Sulamani, who drew post 1 and was installed as the 9-5 favorite on Arlington's morning line.

At 1 1/4 miles, the Million begins at the grandstand end of the far turn, which means horses have the entire stretch to position themselves before hitting the first turn. That configuration mitigates the importance of post position to some extent, not that it matters much for Sulamani.

Winner of the French Derby last season and second in the Arc de Triomphe, the Godolphin-owned Sulamani is a come-from-the-clouds closer who will not start his best run until well into the race.

"For a horse like him, the post position shouldn't mean a great deal," said Tony Howarth, Godolphin's head lad overseeing Sulamani's preparation until trainer Saeed bin Suroor arrives Friday. Sulamani, who has had only light exercise in his three days of training here, was scheduled to have a more serious piece of exercise Thursday morning.

Second choice on the morning line is the British expatriate Storming Home, who heads the five-horse North American contingent. With Gary Stevens to ride for trainer Neil Drysdale, Storming Home will break from post 4. Having won both his U.S. starts in fine fashion, he is liable to go off a much shorter price than his 7-2 morning line.

Another Californian, The Tin Man, is the likely speed of the race. He breaks from post 10, and trainer Richard Mandella conceded Wednesday that his horse was likely to wind up on the lead.

Perfect Drift, a winner of two straight on dirt, has post 6 and should press the leader under Pat Day, while Perfect Soul, the lone Canadian in the race, has post 5 and is likely to track a moderate pace under Corey Nakatani.

The field

Arlington million: $1 Million, 1 1/4 miles (turf), Grade 1

1SulamaniD. Flores1268-5
2VangelisC. Soumillon12630-1
3PaoliniE. Pedroza12612-1
4Storming HomeG. Stevens1265-2
5Perfect SoulC. Nakatani12620-1
6Perfect DriftP. Day12610-1
7Beauchamp PilotE. Ahern12630-1
8Touch of LandP. Valenzuela12030-1
9KaieteurR. Douglas12630-1
10The Tin ManM. Smith1268-1
11Honor in WarJ. Valdivia Jr.12615-1
12TripatM. Kinane12630-1
13Olden TimesK. Desormeaux12620-1

* Odds by Vance Hanson

* Saturday, 5-6:30 p.m. (Eastern), ESPN