10/25/2007 11:00PM

New race practically custom made for Prussian

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - When Prussian made his career debut on Aug. 17 at Saratoga, it was easy to think ahead 10 weeks to one of the three new Breeders' Cup races. Prussian seemed to be custom made for the Juvenile Turf, and nothing he has done in the intervening couple of months has suggested otherwise.

Prussian won first time out by almost seven lengths, a mammoth margin of victory for a turf race. He traveled to Woodbine for the Sept. 16 Summer Stakes - the race that produced 2006 Juvenile Fillies winner Dreaming of Anna - and won that by 1 1/4 lengths. And the recent dirt workouts Prussian has been running over the Saratoga training track look nothing short of sensational.

"He hasn't gone backward, that's for sure," said trainer Bill Mott.

Prussian is one of 12 in the $1 million Juvenile Turf, which is run over a flat mile. He drew post 9, which should be fine, since Prussian has excellent speed to secure position before the first turn. Bred and owned by Monticule LLC, Prussian is by the late, great Danzig, and he came around very early for Mott.

"He's been very professional so far," Mott said. "He's smart. He's been a quick learner. He's very athletic. Hopefully, he's good enough to keep improving."

Prussian has been on the pace in both of his races so far, but on Saturday he probably will have a target. Preachin Man is the race's only three-time winner, but he has never raced beyond six furlongs, and has regularly thrown down 45-second half-miles while racing on the lead in dirt sprints. Preachin Man has post 10, and seems certain to come out running, cross over, and assume control. Which would be fine with Mott.

"I'd think it'd be to his benefit to have something in front of him." Mott said.

Preachin Man seems unlikely to offer a great deal of late resistance, and the natural inclination of horseplayers looking to beat Prussian would be to look overseas. But perhaps the best of the overseas pre-entrants, Ibn Kaldun, didn't ship for the Juvenile Turf - though the remaining three Euros, Achill Island, Domestic Fund, and Strike the Deal, all have varying levels of appeal.

Strike the Deal is the most accomplished of the three, with a win in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and a close second Oct. 5 in the important Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. Strike the Deal, however, has never raced farther than seven furlongs, and never won beyond six, and both his pedigree - Van Nistelrooy out of a Mt. Livermore mare - and his appearance - small and athletic - suggest a horse who might not be at his best in a two-turn mile.

Achill Island, on the other hand, is by Sadler's Wells, debuted at one mile in July, and in his most recent race was second of 11 in the Group 2 Royal Lodge at one mile on the right-handed Ascot course. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Achill Island has been second three times and first once, and has the look of an improving colt.

"The trip here should suit him quite well," said jockey John Murtagh, who rode Achill Island in the Royal Lodge, and has the mount again Saturday.

Domestic Fund, another Sadler's Wells colt based in Ireland, was a distant second of nine last out in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh for trainer Dermot Weld, who has been blanked with 11 Breeders' Cup starters.

As for the other Americans, The Leopard looks like a somewhat inferior version of Prussian, though with only one turf try - a last-out win in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont - he still has room to grow this season. Texas Fever won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile on Polytrack, and has won two straight races. The fact that he's never tried turf may be less of a concern than his poor draw in post 11.

Gio Ponti is unbeaten after two races, and finished well to win the $150,000 Bourbon Stakes last time out at Keeneland. Also worthy of mention is Cherokee Triangle, who put together a complete race last time, winning the $198,000 Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs by almost 11 lengths. Trainer Mike Maker said he changed bits on Cherokee Triangle after the horse had finished second to BC Juvenile-bound Old Man Buck in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs.