10/03/2007 11:00PM

Tariq must overcome soft turf in Foret

EmailPerhaps the most contentious field in the 150-year history of the Prix de la Foret tops the bill on the first day of Arc Weekend at Longchamp Saturday when 13 horses line up for the seven-furlong Group 1 contest worth $352,000.

Tariq rates a favorite's choice as he is riding the crest of a three-race winning streak at the Foret distance. Peter Chapple-Hyam, who will saddle the favored Authorized in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, has engineered the 3-year-old Tariq to victories in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes and the Group 2 Lennox Stakes, and will give Authorized's rider Frankie Dettori a leg up. The soft ground at Longchamp, however, may compromise his chances.

US Ranger, recently switched by owner Michael Tabor from Jean-Claude Rouget to Aidan O'Brien, will have no problems with the ground. He landed the listed six-furlong Waterford Testimonial Stakes at the Curragh last Sunday on a yielding surface, so the Danzig colt could finally fulfill his potential with Kieren Fallon aboard.

Local favorite Marchand d'Or, trained by Freddy Head to two consecutive wins in the 6 1/2-furlong Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, is a three-time stakes winner on the Foret course. He was a sharp second last time in the six-furlong Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup and always goes well for jockey Davy Bonilla. He must, however, face the Sprint Cup winner Red Clubs, who disappointed on his only trip to Longchamp when ninth in last year's five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye.

Red Evie, the overachieving Michael Bell-trained filly, beat Europe's leading miler Ramonti in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes in May, and has since won the seven-furlong Group 2 Hungerford Stakes against males. Lurking in the shadows with a chance to trump them all is Jeremy. Close up in three Group 1 miles this year, he looks like the value play.

Godolphin has strong chances in a pair of Group 2 contests. In the one-mile $183,000 Prix Daniel Wildenstein, Saeed bin Suroor will saddle defending champ Echo of Light. Touch of Land goes for his third win in the 1 1/8-mile and 155-yard Prix Dollar, but Godolphin's Stage Gift is coming off a win in the Group 2 York Stakes.