10/05/2004 11:00PM

Trio of preps to determine several members of U.S. team

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The field for the 21st Breeders' Cup Mile will undergo some major sculpting within a span of just a few hours Saturday, when three major turf races - all of them contested at the same one-mile distance as the main event three weeks later - will be run from coast to coast.

Probably the best of the preps is the richest: the $600,000 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, where Nothing to Lose, Perfect Soul, and a host of worthy opponents form the core of a very competitive field. Whichever horse wins the Shadwell will almost surely become an instant contender for the BC Mile, whether it is one of the favorites or a fringe challenger such as Honor in War, Sweet Return, Silver Tree, or the French invader Puppeteer.

Nothing to Lose, winner of the Fourstardave, is the likely Shadwell favorite. A consistent 4-year-old by Sky Classic, Nothing to Lose, trained by Bobby Frankel, would give owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey a third major BC contender if he runs well Saturday. The Ramseys already have Roses in May for the Classic and Kitten's Joy for the Turf.

At Santa Anita, the $250,000 Oak Tree BC Mile may be more notable for the California horses who are not in the field than the ones who are. Trainer Julio Canani is opting to go without a final prep for his two major Mile contenders, Special Ring and Blackdoun, and head straight to Lone Star with both.

Still, Canani has a top Oak Tree Mile contender in Tsigane, a French-bred who will face the likes of Cayoke, Singletary, and the filly Musical Chimes.

In New York, the $350,000 Kelso BC may or may not produce a Mile contender. As of Wednesday, the probable favorites are Stroll, Mr O'Brien, and Millennium Dragon. Skipping the race is 3-year-old Artie Schiller, whom trainer Jimmy Jerkens is still considering for the Mile.

One of the less alluring aspects to the Kelso is its one-turn configuration. At Lone Star, the Mile will be run around two turns, as will the other two Saturday preps, the Shadwell and Oak Tree BC.

From Europe, all is reported well with Six Perfections, the 2003 BC Mile winner, who will defend her title after having had her last race on Aug. 15. In other major news from overseas, the International Racing Bureau is reporting that Cacique, winner of the Prix Daniel Wildenstein last weekend at Longchamp, is likely to run in the Mile.

The IRB also said that Queen Elizabeth II winner Rakti appears unlikely to come for the Mile, while Lucky Story, Whipper, Chic, and Refuse to Bend all remain possible starters. Sun Chariot winner Attraction definitely will not come for the Mile.

From Canada, Soaring Free, who defeated Perfect Soul last month in the Atto Mile, will make his next start in the BC Mile.

Mile Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 mile (turf). Purse: $1.5 million.

RANKHORSETRAINERODDS
1CaciqueA. Fabre8-1
A rival to Bago early in year, and a force off his recent win at this trip
2Six PerfectionsP. Bary5-1
She was in better form when she won this last year than she is now
3Special RingJ. Canani6-1
Being handled Euro-style; this will be only his second start of year
4RaktiM. Jarvis6-1
Looking more doubtful that QE II winner will be supplemented to this
5ChicSir M. Stoute10-1
Back in consideration after her sharp second in the Sun Chariot
6Refuse to BendS. bin Suroor8-1
Third behind Rakti in the QE II, and is a very likely starter here
7WhipperR. Collet10-1
Beaten favorite in the Moulin beat Six Perfections two starts back
8Lucky StoryM. Johnston15-1
They're thinking about this race after his second to Rakti in the QE II
9SingletaryD. Chaltos Jr.12-1
Ran some strong races at this distance earlier this year in California
10Nothing to LoseR. Frankel15-1
Should stick to a one-run style from way back in the Shadwell at Kee

- The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.