07/19/2001 11:00PM

Restrictions hurt American, but not Million

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Sunday's American Derby field here could have swelled by as many as five European imports, but tightened United States quarantine restrictions enacted because of the outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in England kept the Europeans from coming. In their absence, the Grade 2 American Derby has a field of seven.

These quarantine restrictions won't affect the stakes on Arlington Million Day, however.

According to Frank Gabriel, vice president of racing and operations at Arlington, officials at the United States Department of Agriculture have agreed to alter the restrictions for Arlington Million Day, Aug. 18, allowing European-based horses to ship here under normal procedures. The easing of restrictions, Gabriel said, also will apply to the World Thoroughbred Championships this fall in New York.

The heightened restrictions require that European horses spend a week at a federal quarantine site in New York, Florida, or California before being allowed to stable at a U.S. racetrack. The connections of the five European-based runners who were being considered for the American Derby found that schedule to be too onerous. One of those horses, Art Contemporain, went through quarantine in New York and will start in the Kent Breeders' Cup Sunday at Delaware Park - a considerably shorter distance from a quarantine site than Chicago.

The easing of restrictions for Million Day, which includes the Arlington Million, Beverly D., and the Secretariat, will allow horses to ship directly to Arlington.

Europeans played a major role in last year's American Derby. The Irish-based Pine Dance won the race and the English-based Hymn finished third.

Ambitious schedule for Sligo Bay

Big plans are in the works for Sligo Bay, who makes his second U.S. start as one of the favorites Sunday in the American Derby. If he performs to expectations, he'll contest Grade 1 races the rest of this year.

"The Secretariat and the Hollywood Derby, those are both Grade 1's, and those are the races we've been looking at," said trainer Beau Greely. "There's the Breeders' Cup if he's good enough."

Sligo Bay, purchased privately in Europe by Columbine Stable near the end of his 2-year-old season, must clear this hurdle first, but Greely is not idly dreaming. Sligo Bay was a serious 2-year-old, though he won only a maiden race at the Curragh. In his final start of the year, he finished third in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud Stakes, a 10-furlong Group 1 at Saint Cloud.

Sligo Bay's talent is no surprise considering his pedigree. He is by Sadler's Wells, who is having one of his best years in a great stud career, out of the mare Angelic Song, a full sister to Glorious Song, the dam of Singspiel and Devils Bag.

Greely had Sligo Bay over the winter, and he didn't race in this country until the May 20 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood, which he won by a length with a furious late rally. "I thought he might need a race going nine furlongs the first time after being off for seven months," Greely said.

In the absence of major 3-year-old turf races early in the season, Sligo Bay had a quiet early summer gearing up for the second half of the year.

"He's been training steadily since the Cinema," said Greely, who describes Sligo Bay as a push-button horse. "He's in perfect shape."

Provided he runs well Sunday, Sligo Bay, who shipped here with six other Greely-trained horses, would remain at Arlington to train for the Secretariat. At 10 furlongs, that race would start to get into the meat of his pedigree. "I'd think this horse would run all day," Greely said.

Last chance for Globalize

Globalize, who won the Grade 2 Spiral Stakes as a 3-year-old, will attempt to resume his racing career in California, trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Globalize missed a year of racing due to various infirmities and made his comeback on opening day here with a fourth-place finish in an overnight handicap. But he was eased after bleeding profusely during his most recent start, the Hanshin Handicap.

"Right now he's eating some grass at [Illinois horseman] Tom Swearingen's place," Hollendorfer said. "I think he might have bled because he's not comfortable on this track. We had a plan for him here, it just didn't work out. If he's not able to go on, he'll be retired to stud."

Meier gets win No. 3,500

Rider Randy Meier got his 3,500th win in the ninth race here Thursday, guiding the first-time starter Ubiquitous Boy to a narrow win. The 46-year-old Meier, a native of Nebraska, is the 61st rider to win 3,500 races.

Meier rode his first winner 29 years ago and is the all-time leading jockey by wins at Hawthorne Race Course and Sportsman's Park.

o Jockey Robby Albarado was to begin riding at Arlington on Saturday and is expected to remain here the rest of the summer, rather than traveling to Saratoga where he has ridden in the past.