08/05/2006 12:00AM

Million lures 11 pre-entries


CHICAGO - Eleven horses, four Europeans and seven Americans, have been pre-entered in the Arlington Million, which will be contested along with two other Grade 1 turf stakes on Saturday at Arlington Park.

There were no surprises among the pre-entries - though Arlington-based Major Rhythm, who figures to be the longest price in the race, only entered the picture on Friday - but some uncertainty remains about the final shape of the Million field. Todd Pletcher pre-entered both English Channel and Go Deputy, but plans on sending one of the horses while keeping the other home in New York. Arlington racing officials would love to get English Channel, a multiple Grade 1 winner, but last week Pletcher appeared to favor Go Deputy for the Million, while English Channel could race at Saratoga in the Sword Dancer Handicap. Go Deputy comes off a win in the Bowling Green Handicap, but is far less accomplished than his stablemate.

With English Channel or without, the 2006 Million is at least solid, if short of spectacular. The pre-entries, in alphabetical order, are: Ace, Better Talk Now, Cacique, Cosmonaut, English Channel, Go Deputy, Major Rhythm, Phoenix Reach, Soldier Hollow, The Tin Man, and Touch of Land.

Phoenix Reach, a globetrotting Group 1 winner who hasn't raced in more than a year, arrived here Thursday from England. Ace, who finished second in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf, and Touch of Land, who makes his third Million appearance, were both scheduled to arrive Sunday. The German-based Soldier Hollow is booked to arrive Monday.

The Tin Man will be the lone West Coast representative, the connections of Aragorn and Sweet Return, considered possible starters more than a week ago, having decided to point elsewhere. The Tin Man, an 8-year-old, finished sixth in the 2003 Million.

East Coast-based horses due to arrive Thursday include Better Talk Now, fourth in the 2005 Million, and Cacique, who won the Manhattan Handicap and was beaten a half-length by English Channel last out in the Grade 1 United Nations.

Entries will be drawn and post positions assigned for the Million as well as the Secretariat and Beverly D. on Wednesday.