11/02/2009 1:00AM

Talented Karelian begins to move up


ARCADIA, Calif. - Karelian has had just four starts in the last two years, a spotty record that has made aiming for races such as Saturday's $2 million Breeders Cup Mile at Santa Anita seem like a far-fetched plan.

That changed on Oct. 10 when Karelian finished second at 10-1 in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, his first start in nearly 11 months. With his best showing in a Grade 1, a race such as the BC Mile became an objective for Green Lantern Stable and trainer Rusty Arnold.

"He s a talented horse," Arnold said. "He's had an injury plagued career. Let's just leave it at that. We have him very good right now. He's extremely sound right now."

The Shadwell Mile was the 7-year-old gelding's second start in a Grade 1; he was fifth in the 2008 Shadwell. The BC Mile will be Karelian's first start in California, and one that Arnold is ready to try.

Karelian, who typically races as a stalker, led for every stride but the last in the Shadwell Mile before losing to Court Vision, one of the top contenders for the BC Mile.

"He s hardly ever been in front," Arnold said. "The main reason he was in front was no one else wanted it."

The Mile is led by defending champion Goldikova and has a probable field of 11. The other candidates include Courageous Cat, Cowboy Cal, Delegator, Ferneley, Gladiatorus, Justenuffhumor, Whatsthescript, and Zacinto.

Arnold envisions Karelian racing just behind the pace, which may be set by Cowboy Cal, the winner of the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile here on Oct. 10.

"One thing about being near the front, you don't have the traffic," Arnold said.