09/23/2004 12:00AM

Soviet Song to be tested


That Soviet Song has won Group 1 miles in her last three starts and is an Ascot course-and-distance winner at that level makes her the solid 5-2 choice in Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

But Soviet Song, a 4-year-old daughter of Marju, faces the sternest test of her career in the $450,000 contest, the final major European prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The QE II is the feature race of the last meeting to be held at historic Ascot Racecourse until a new grandstand is completed in time for the Royal Meeting in June 2006.

Soviet Song, winner of the Fillies Mile at this meeting two years ago, beat colts when she won the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 28. That victory was sandwiched between tallies over Attraction, winner of both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, in both the Falmouth Stakes and the Matron Stakes.

The "good" ground at Ascot should please most of the 13 intended runners, and Soviet Song, who has been ruled out of the Breeders' Cup Mile by trainer James Fanshawe, looks vulnerable to a number of rivals. Most dangerous could be the fast-improving Ace. A 3-year-old son of Danehill trained by Aidan O'Brien, Ace is undefeated after three starts, all at a mile, the latest on Aug. 15 in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown. He could be any sort. A full brother to Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner Danish and to the Group 1-placed Hawkeye, Ace is the value of the race at 14-1.

His stablemate Antonius Pius was a close third in both the St. James's Palace Stakes and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, and would have won the French 2000 Guineas but for crashing into the fence after having taken the lead inside the sixteenth pole. Kieren Fallon picks up the ride on the hard-to-handle Antonius Pius, a Danzig colt. Jamie Spencer, who rides first call for O'Brien, has made the telling decision to go with Ace.

Haafhd, winner of the 2000 Guineas, finished fourth in the St. James's Palace and ninth in the Sussex since then, while the Irish 2000 Guineas champ, Bachelor Duke, was seventh in the St. James's Palace and has not run since June 15. Neither seem poised for victory. The inconsistent Refuse to Bend, winner of the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes and the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes, flopped in the Sussex, finishing last behind Soviet Star, Andre Fabre's French invader Diamond Green was runner-up in the French 2000 Guineas, St. James's Palace, and the Prix du Moulin and offers value at 8-1. Both the ever-dangerous Norse Dancer, second in the Irish Champion and Juddmonte International Stakes, and the Prince of Wales's Stakes winner Rakti, will appreciate the stamina required by Ascot's uphill, one-turn mile.

Playful Act looks best in Fillies Mile

Playful Act, a full sister to Percussionist and a half to Echoes in Eternity, both of whom are group race winners going at least 1 1/2 miles, has the staying power to take the Group 1, $360,000 Fillies Mile.

A 2-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells trained by John Gosden, Playful Act has already won at a mile in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes and appears to have an edge over Group 3 winner Dubai Surprise and the sharp maiden winner Echelon.