08/14/2002 11:00PM

Once again, Germany sends its very best


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - For the second year in a row, the best European horse in the Arlington Million comes from Germany, and if Paolini runs as well Saturday as Silvano did a year ago, he may give favored Beat Hollow a battle.

Ignore Paolini's morning line odds, 10-1, but use those numbers in a different way - Paolini has run in Group 1 races in his last 10 starts.

"He has the same class as Silvano," said Andreas Wohler, the trainer of both horses. "He's gotten stronger year by year, and he's doing very well right now."

If respect for Paolini seems low, it's mainly because his last running line shows a distant eighth-place finish in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot. "Ignore that race," advised jockey Andreas Suborics. Stuck in tight quarters behind horses, Paolini checked hard and was fortunate not to fall little more than three furlongs from the finish.

The trip from Germany to England was business as usual for Wohler, who has become something of a pioneer in international racing. His high-class operation is based at a racetrack in Bremen, Germany, but Wohler sends his good horses around the world for Group 1 races. Silvano had spent time in various parts of Asia before traveling to Chicago, and Paolini has been all over the place. His 2001 campaign included races in Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan, and he began this season with a second-place finish in the Group 1 Singapore Cup.

"If you have the right kind of horse you can try it," Wohler said. A horse that's slow to adapt, a fussy eater, or challenged mentally by the demands of shipping is out. "They must have the class, too," said Wohler.

Wohler himself appears to ship well. Laid back and friendly, Wohler had an unusual response to his horse's behavior during training Thursday morning at Arlington. On a day when he was to have a short blowout on Arlington's main track, Paolini did more gawking and goofing than training. Instead of fuming, Wohler laughed.

"There were so many horses on the track," Wohler said. "He's never seen that. He wanted to go over to those other horses."

Paolini's main work for the Million was done in Germany, so his Thursday antics shouldn't hurt him, and the horse, Wohler said, has traveled well. "He looks perfect. He moves well, and he's eating well."

Paolini is a different type of horse than Silvano, more robust, larger, and more studdish, too. "Silvano was a lighter type of horse," Wohler said. "Paolini is big and strong. Sometimes you have to do a bit more with him, but he's easy to train."

Paolini got a couple weeks off after the Ascot debacle, but has been seriously training for this race during the last month. Wohler said a light two-start campaign has come about by design, and he avoided racing and training Paolini over the softer ground found in Europe, especially earlier in the racing season.

"We were waiting, looking for good to firm ground," he said. "We had a lot of bad weather."

Some Europeans don't handle the harder turf courses in this country, but Paolini has come to the Million because Wohler believes the horse thrives on firm turf and has the right style to adapt to American racing.

"He has plenty of speed, and very firm ground doesn't bother him. In Italy he broke the record on very firm ground."

"Last year, we were confident in our horse," Wohler said, "but we didn't know how to compare with the American horses."

Now they know, and we do too. Beat Hollow, beware.