10/02/2002 11:00PM

Quartet of Group 2's on pre-Arc card


PARIS - Four Group 2 races at Longchamp Saturday set the table for the six Group 1 races that make up France's biggest day of racing, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Day on Sunday.

While the Arc withdrawals of Golan, Nayef, and Sakhee have been offset to a certain degree by the late entries of High Chaparral and Islington, the Arc de Triomphe still looks like it's taking a back seat to the Breeders' Cup Turf and the Japan Cup. Golan - the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes - will go in the BC Turf and Japan Cup. Nayef and Sakhee are expected to clash in the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 19.

Saturday's card at Longchamp is headed by the Prix Dollar, a 1 1/8-mile, 155-yard race featuring the Francois Doumen-trained veteran Jim and Tonic, as well as Wellbeing, who upset 2001 Arc winner Sakhee in the Group 3 Prix Gontaut-Biron last time on Aug. 10.

In his return from a six-month absence on Sept. 17, Jim and Tonic chased Arc contestant Fair Mix home in the Group 3 La Coupe at 1 1/4 miles. He will have benefited from that effort and could give his Parisian fans a popular victory.

But danger lurks in the supplemental entry Tau Ceti, recent winner of the Group 3 Prix du Prince d'Orange, and German Group 1 winner Kaieteur.

Saturday's one-mile Prix du Rond-Point has been renamed the Prix Daniel Wildenstein in honor of the great French horseman who died last year.

Ecurie Wildenstein, the nom de course under which Wildenstein's sons race, will not be represented. The nod goes to Domedriver, a Pascal Bary-trained colt who split Banks Hill and Best of the Bests last time in the Prix Jacques le Marois.

The Dermot Weld-trained filly Dress to Thrill goes after her fourth straight victory in the Wildenstein, while Slickly could make his first start for Godolphin in nearly a year.

Alexander Three D flirted briefly with a trip to Woodbine for the E.P. Taylor after her victory in the 1 13/16-mile May Hill Stakes. She is much more wisely placed by Barry Hills in Saturday's 1 9/16-mile Prix de Royallieu, in which she will be challenged by the Mark Johnston-trained Love Everlasting, a listed winner, and the red-hot Dermot Weld-trained Irresistible Jewel, whose victory in the Group 3 Blandford Stakes on Sept. 15 makes her the choice.

The 1 7/8-mile Prix Hubert Chaudenay is a race for 3-year-olds. British invaders Savannah Bay and Swing Wing, first and second in the Group 3 Prix de Lutece over the course and distance on Sept. 8, appear to have an edge over their French rivals Morozov and Thompson Rouge.

Grandchamp says 'bon'

Longchamp's clerk of the course Gerard Grandchamp said on Thursday that the ground for Sunday's Arc would be good. He predicted a penetrometer reading of 3.0 for the big day with a slightly softer, but still good, reading of 3.2 for Saturday.

Good ground would be to the benefit of Arc favorite Sulamani, as well as for the dangerous fillies Aquarelliste, Islington, and Ana Marie.

Current Arc odds: Sulamani 7-4, High Chaparral 9-4, Aquarelliste, Islington 8-1, Marienbard 9-1, Manhattan Cafe 10-1, Asian Heights 16-1, Falbrav 20-1.