10/05/2007 12:00AM

Soldier of Fortune edge in Arc

EmailIrish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune can get the better of Epsom Derby winner Authorized on Sunday in the $2.8 million Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, where the difference between the two might be decided by the condition of the ground.

Although Authorized defeated Soldier of Fortune by 8 1/4 lengths into fifth place at Epsom, Soldier of Fortune has since put together back-to-back victories at the Arc distance of 1 1/2 miles, slamming a subpar Irish Derby field by nine lengths, then rolling to a handy 1 1/2-length score in the Prix Niel. In the Prix Niel, Soldier of Fortune soundly defeated two of his rivals on Sunday - Sagara and Zambezi Sun - in the Arc course and distance prep for 3-year-olds.

With the ground still very soft at Longchamp on Friday and expected to dry out only slightly between then and Sunday, conditions may be more suitable for Soldier of Fortune than for Authorized. His Irish Derby victory came on soft ground, and he can give trainer Aidan O'Brien his elusive first Arc triumph. Johnny Murtagh, who won the Arc with Sinndar in 2000, has the ride.

But Authorized has a license to win as the favorite. A five-length Epsom Derby winner, he was beaten by Notnowcato in the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes in his first try against older horses. Authorized rebounded to defeat Dylan Thomas and Notnowcato in the 1 5/16-mile Juddmonte International on Aug. 21. The 47-day gap between then and the Arc will not pose a problem for the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Authorized, a son of Montjeu. Authorized will have Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

One advantage Authorized has over Soldier of Fortune is his Juddmonte victory against older horses, but Soldier of Fortune perhaps has more room for improvement.

Older horses have won only 2 of the last 13 Arcs, and it is difficult to see one of them winning this year. Dylan Thomas, who will run as part of a four-pronged entry with Soldier of Fortune, Yellowstone, and their supplemented rabbit Song of Hiawatha, has the best chance among the older horses. His four-length romp in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 21 is probably the best performance by any horse in the world at 1 1/2 miles this year, but the Danehill 4-year-old has never run particularly well on soft ground. Kieren Fallon will ride.

King George runner-up Youmzain is another who would prefer good ground, but German invader Saddex has a dark-horse chance.

A perfect 3 for 3 this year at the Arc distance - with wins in the Group 2 Gerling-Preis on good ground, the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly on good to soft, and the Group 1 Rheinland-Pokal on soft - the 4-year-old Saddex should be used in the exotics. So should Getaway, a German-bred son of Monsun who is trained by six-time Arc winner Andre Fabre. Getaway is a soft- ground stayer who won the 1 7/8-mile Group 2 Prix Kergorlay two starts back.

Getaway, who has been supplemented to the Arc, is one of only four French-trained horses in the 12-horse field. Two others are Zambezi Sun and Mandesha. Zambezi Sun won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over the Arc course and distance by five lengths in July, but was soundly defeated by Soldier of Fortune in the Prix Niel. Mandesha, the lone filly in the lineup, does not appear to be the same horse she was last year when she won three Group 1 races, among them the Prix de l'Opera.

While the streak of four consecutive victories by 3-year-olds in the Arc likely will be extended to five, the streak of four straight French-trained winners may come to an end.