07/26/2004 12:00AM

Million Preview Day lived up to name


CHICAGO - Million Preview Day at Arlington was a decent concept. Lump together nominal preps for the track's trio of Grade 1 grass races in August, and see what happens. But Preview Day has been more a gathering of AAA talent not quite fit for the Grade 1's - until this year. All three turf stakes Saturday could produce multiple starters for the Grade 1 races on Aug. 14, and the horses coming out of them might hold their own this year.

The top two finishers from the Grade 2 American Derby, won in stakes-record time by Simple Exchange, are likely to come back for the Grade 1 Secretariat. Toasted, who finished a close third as the favorite, is less likely to run, though trainer Laura de Seroux said Saturday she will consider a return trip from California.

Barring injury or illness, Simple Exchange is in the Secretariat, for he has traveled here from Ireland, and trainer Dermot Weld has no plans for taking him home until after the race. In years past, Weld would have needed two intercontinental trips to make both races. U.S. Department of Agriculture rules require international equine visitors to leave the country within 30 days of arrival. This year, the American Derby was moved forward a week, giving Simple Exchange time to contest the Secretariat before going back to Ireland.

Cool Conductor, second by a neck Saturday in a vastly improved performance, also seems a likely Secretariat starter. Cool Conductor, who trains with Bill Mott's Kentucky string, was supplemented to the American Derby after finishing a fading third in the Arlington Classic. He raced for the first time with Lasix on Saturday, and also ran with blinkers off.

"I know Bill certainly has [the Secretariat] under consideration for him after the way he ran," said Ken McCarthy, Mott's Kentucky assistant.

Plans for Senor Swinger, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap by a head, were unknown Monday, but Mystery Giver, who was second in the race, is a possible starter in the Arlington Million. Bumped hard at the start, Mystery Giver rallied wide behind a slow pace and came home powerfully.

"We'll see how he trains and eats the next 10 days, and see what the competition looks like," said trainer Chris Block.

Ballingarry, who finished third, won't run in the Million, trainer Laura de Seroux said. Ballingarry may make his next start in the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War at Belmont.

Bedanken, an impressive winner of the Modesty, remains stabled at Arlington, and will run back in the Beverly D. Her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, saddled Bien Nicole to a second-place finish in the race last season.

Washington Park coming up short

Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000 Washington Park Handicap had only four confirmed starters as of Monday, and two logical runners, Roses in May and Perfect Drift, are instead aiming for the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga, Arlington racing officials said. Roses in May and Perfect Drift finished one-two in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, a logical stepping-stone to the Washington Park, which Perfect Drift won last season.

The Washington Park did get a boost Monday when trainer Kiaran McLaughlin decided to send Eye of the Tiger to Arlington. Also slated to start are Colonial Colony, the California-based Olmodavor, and Congrats, who, like Eye of the Tiger, is based in New York. The Lady's Groom remains a possible starter, as does Alumni Hall, winner of the Black Tie Affair here last month. Trainer Neil Howard said Monday that Alumni Hall, who is at Saratoga, was 50-50 to come for the Washington Park.

McLaughlin, who also nominated Seattle Fitz to the race, said he decided to come because of the prospective short field.

"When you have a chance to run in a five-horse field for $350,000, you have to be able to call an audible," he said.

Coach Jimi Lee to stay put

Coach Jimi Lee, who set a track record for six furlongs at Prairie Meadows this month, breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03 here Monday, but trainer Jim DiVito said he will not ship Coach Jimi Lee out of town for a major sprint stakes. Instead, Coach Jimi Lee is being pointed for the $150,000 Arlington Sprint on Aug. 28.

Asked about a possible trip to Saratoga, DiVito said: "I think the horse has the capability of running with horses like that, but I don't want to do that right now. I'd rather stay at home than ship him."

Hot barn sends Every Advantage

The featured eighth race on Wednesday's nine-race program is only for 3-year-old entry-level allowance horses (or 3-year-old $50,000 claimers), but it offers the sort of competitive, full field that bettors crave.

Twelve horses were entered in the race, which will be run at one mile on dirt. There are several contenders, but Every Advantage figures to be favored. This comes in great part because Tom Amoss trains Every Advantage, and Amoss, off a tremendous Churchill meet, is knocking them dead at Arlington, too. Through Sunday, his Chicago string had won 12 of 27, for a 44 percent strike rate.

With blinkers added for the first time, Every Advantage rebounded from two dismal efforts to finish second June 27 in a fast Churchill Downs race that was run under conditions identical to Wednesday's. The horse that beat him, Grande's Grandslam, disappointed as a heavy favorite here Saturday, but let us not hold that against Every Advantage, whose speed can be prudently rationed by jockey Eddie Razo from his outside post Wednesday.

No such luck for pace player Hay Bailey, who drew post 1 - no place to be in a one-turn mile. Prospective Kiss and Fools Play also could contend, and Sling Shot, an off-the-pace horse returning from a three-month layoff, could sneak into the picture if the early fractions are too hot.

* All-sources handle Saturday was $7,384,625, the highest one-day total at Arlington excluding Arlington Million days, the 2002 Breeders' Cup, and the day Cigar raced at Arlington.

* Michelle Barsotti, who recently came here from California, has begun booking mounts for jockey Larry Sterling.