08/08/2006 12:00AM

No world-beaters here


There will be some familiar European faces lining up for the Arlington Million on Saturday, but neither they nor any of the newcomers rate as highly as recent winners Sulamani or Powerscourt. The Beverly D., in direct competition with this past Saturday's Nassau Stakes - in which Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun set Goodwood alight - has attracted only two European-trained 3-year-old fillies, one of whom will be making her first start against older horses. In the Secretariat, we will see a Breeders' Cup Juvenile also-ran who has not won a race in 13 months, and an intriguing Giant's Causeway colt who should make his presence felt.

Arlington Million: Touch of Land needs no introduction to Arlington regulars. Eleventh in Sulamani's Million three years ago as a 3-year-old, Touch of Land returned to Chicago last year to finish an improved fifth behind Powerscourt. Like last year, he is coming off a win in the Group 3 Grand Prix de Vichy. Perhaps more important from a form standpoint, he has won the last two runnings of the Prix Dollar, one of France's better Group 2 contests. Can Touch of Land be third-time lucky? A late-running third or fourth is more likely.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Ace showed a liking for American racing when third in last fall's Turf Classic at Belmont and an even better second in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Disappointing in his first three starts this year, the 5-year-old Ace seemed to be coming around in his last try when second over an inadequate mile at the Group 3 level at the Curragh. A horse who likes a fast pace on firm ground, he is likely to enjoy the conditions of the Million, but players must choose between the Ace who has been off-form all year and the Ace who may remember that he is back in America where, like ex-stablemate Powerscourt, he runs his best.

At 124, Phoenix Reach has a higher Timeform rating than any of Arlington's European invaders. Trouble is, he hasn't run since finishing up the track in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes on July 23, 2005. Trainer Andrew Balding - son of Ian Balding, the trainer of the the legendary Mill Reef - has been pointing 6-year-old Phoenix Reach to the Million since he got him back in training late this spring after a long spell on the sidelines due to a leg injury that nearly forced his retirement. At his best he would be competitive, but it is doubtful Phoenix Reach will be at his best on Saturday. Moreover, his big international victories in the Canadian International, the Hong Kong Vase, and the Dubai Sheema Classic have all come at 1 1/2 miles.

Soldier Hollow appears to be the best 10-furlong horse among the visitors. In the barn of Germany's leading trainer, Peter Schiergen, the 6-year-old Soldier Hollow hasn't been facing the quality of competition some of his Million rivals have this year, but he appears to be sitting on a big race. Twice the winner of Italy's best late-season event for older horses, the 1 1/4-mile Premio Roma, he has been first or second in 10 of his 12 tries at the Million distance and may be the value play.

Beverly D.: Twice placed in classic Group 1's, Queen Cleopatra won only for the first time in her seventh start when she captured a Group 3 mile on yielding ground at Leopardstown. While her trainer, Aidan O'Brien, is certainly one of the very best trainers in the world, this filly looks up against it in this spot. Queen Cleopatra showed her best when third two back in the French Oaks, but the form of that classic hasn't worked out in recent weeks. Moreover, she flopped in her first try against older fillies and mares last time when fifth, beaten eight lengths by Alexander Goldrun, in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes.

After chasing home the redoubtable Alexandrova in the English Oaks despite having taken a frightening stumble at the eighth pole, Rising Cross ran a poor eighth in the Oaks d'Italia before bouncing back to form when third behind Alexandrova again in the Irish Oaks. Now, however, she is cutting back to 1 3/16 miles and facing older fillies and mares for the first time. She is likely to find the pace at Arlington too quick, the distance too short, and the competition too tough.

Secretariat: By the great Danehill, the O'Brien-trained Ivan Denisovich has seemed disinclined to make a peak effort this year and appears to be a classic case of a fine 2-year-old who simply didn't improve at 3. Anyone who thinks he will better himself in his first try beyond 1 1/16 miles may want to try him, but it would probably be money spent unwisely.

Primary, on the other hand, is a horse to whom attention should be paid. Lightly raced and improving, this son of Giant's Causeway is 2 for 2 at the Secretariat distance. The winner of the Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial in his seasonal debut off a 6 1/2-month absence, his fifth in the Chester Vase next time can be discounted because it came at 1 1/2 miles, a distance that is just too long for him. Primary was sent to Milan last time to prepare for the Secretariat and ran to expectations, loving the firm ground to rally off a fast pace in winning a competitive listed race. Expect him to be tracking the early pace in midpack and close with a rush.