09/29/2005 11:00PM

Scorpion primed for Arc triumph


PARIS - Scorpion can give Aidan O'Brien his elusive first victory in the 1 1/2-mile at Longchamp on Sunday when 15 will line up for 84th running of the $2.16 million race, which is the envy of every European owner and trainer.

Even Kieren Fallon, who will be aboard the favored Hurricane Run, has admitted that he might be on the wrong horse in what usually amounts to Europe's championship event.

Fallon rode Scorpion, a Montjeu 3-year-old, to victory when he set a Longchamp course record for 1 1/2 miles in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris on July 14. Fallon also won the first two times he rode Hurricane Run, following an Irish Derby success with a victory over the Arc course and distance in the Group 2 Prix Niel on Sept. 11.

Such is Fallon's respect for Scorpion that he is having second thoughts about missing out on an Arc ride aboard the horse. Scorpion will have Michael Kinane in the saddle. Frankie Dettori rode him to victory in the St. Leger Stakes on Sept. 10.

Scorpion handles any ground, and good going is expected Sunday. Hurricane Run, a son of Montjeu trained by Andre Fabre, will not mind that kind of ground, but might prefer if a bit of rain softened things up.

A third son of Montjeu, Motivator, would be no surprise if he should crack the first three, or even if he were to land the big prize for himself. Motivator was widely regarded as the best 3-year-old in the world at 1 1/2 miles after his five-length romp in the Epsom Derby, but he has since finished second to Oratorio in a pair of Group 1's over an inadequate 1 1/4 miles. He will relish his return to 12 furlongs and will be reunited with his Epsom Derby partner Johnny Murtagh.

Dangerous beyond any of the Montjeu trio's older rivals is the 3-year-old filly Shawanda, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for the Aga Khan. Twice a Group 1 winner at the Arc distance - in the Irish Oaks and the Prix Vermeille - Shawanda looks primed for an even better effort. She has, however, drawn the rail, from where Christophe Soumillon will have to use Shawanda, a daughter of 2000 Arc winner Sinndar, early, although she is one who is always on or near the pace.

The defending champ, Bago, is the forgotten horse in the mix. A 4-year old son of Nashwan, he won the Group 1 Prix Ganay in his seasonal debut on April 24, but has been close but winless in three Group 1 tries since. More importantly, he has not run since finishing third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes on July 23, and appears to be a better bet for the Breeders' Cup Turf than for the Arc.

Westerner has won a Group 1 race on each of the last two Arc Days, but both times it was the 2 1/2-mile Prix du Cadran. He will have the best wishes of stamina-lovers on his side, but he would be doing well to crack the first five.

The 5-year-old mare Pride, a three-time Group 1 winner, is one to use in the exotics, as she rarely runs a bad race, but British invaders Warrsan, Mubtaker and Norse Dancer all seem up against it vis-?-vis their younger rivals. The talented German-bred Shirocco moves up if the ground turns soft.

Last year's runner-up, Cherry Mix, has had a dismal season for Godolphin, and even Frankie Dettori will not be able to coax him to go one better than he did in 2004.

When all is said and done, it is Scorpion who who may sting the unaware among the 50,000-plus who will cram Longchamp on Sunday afternoon.

The field

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Purse $2,160,000; 1 1/2 miles, turf; Group 1

19MubtakerR. Hills13150-1
24 WesternerO. Peslier13120-1
311 Cherry MixL. Dettori13125-1
42 WarrsanK. McEvoy13133-1
513 BagoT. Gillet1315-1
65 Norse DancerJ. F. Egan13150-1
715 ShiroccoS. Pasquier13120-1
814 PrideC-P Lemaire 12814-1
93 SamandoT. Hellier12850-1
1012 VoltmeterT. Thulliez12020-1
1110 ScorpionM. J. Kinane1232-1
128 MotivatorJ. P. Murtagh 1237-2
136 Hurricane Run K. Fallon1232-1
147 WindyaT. Jarnet1203-1
151 ShawandaC. Soumillon 1203-1

* Odds by Alan Shuback
* Television: TVG