Updated on 09/17/2011 6:35PM

Until the Arc, identifying European contenders a guessing game


Considering the substantial impact that European racing normally carries toward the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf, it would be premature to compile a list of serious contenders prior to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc, to be run Oct. 3 at Longchamp in France, figures to do its normal job of helping to decide who's coming for the Turf and who's not. Among the possible starters for the Arc, four or five horses could conceivably run back in the Turf. There also are another five or six Euros who probably will skip the Arc and could run instead in the Turf.

That jumble of Europeans, along with a solid core of American turf horses, ultimately will combine to form another large and intriguing cast for the 1 1/2-mile Turf.

Probably the brightest Euro stars in the marathon turf division are 3-year-olds Grey Swallow, winner of the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes, and North Light, winner of the Epsom Derby; Powerscourt, first-place finisher (before being disqualified) in the Arlington Million; and the Godolphin duo of Sulamani, an earner of more than $4.3 million, and Rule of Law, the 3-year-old winner of the St. Leger Stakes in his latest race.

Other notable Euros under serious consideration for the Turf include Bandari, Mubtaker, Policy Maker, Prospect Park, Valixir, and Warrsan.

One of the top candidates for the Turf is a European who recently moved stateside with trainer Patrick Biancone: Magistretti, the eye-catching winner of the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont in his last start. Although Magistretti formerly was the proverbial "just another horse" in England and was dismissed at 24-1 when third (elevated to second by DQ) in his U.S. debut, the Arlington Million, his improvement in the Man o' War was so pronounced that the 4-year-old colt has to be considered one of the top contenders for the Turf. He earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Man o' War.

Other U.S. horses eyeing the Turf are Better Talk Now, winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer in August at Saratoga; Kicken Kris, the winner (by DQ) of the Arlington Million; Kitten's Joy, the standout 3-year-old who has won 7 of 8 lifetime starts on turf; King's Drama, third behind Magistretti in the Man o' War; Request for Parole, winner of the Grade 1 United Nations in July; and Star Over the Bay, a stalwart in the Southern California turf division all year.

Most American contenders will have their final prep in either the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont on Oct. 2 or the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Oak Tree on Oct. 3.

Trainer Dale Romans originally had thought about keeping Kitten's Joy against 3-year-olds by running him last week in the Jerome at Belmont, but decided instead on the Joe Hirsch. Romans said Kitten's Joy would ship Sunday from his Churchill Downs base.

Turf Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf). Purse: $2 million.

1SulamaniS. bin Suroor5-1
Won't know which Euros will come 'till after the Arc; he's the Arc chalk
2North LightSir M. Stoute6-1
Epsom Derby winner is listed at 8-1 for Oct. 3 Arc by William Hill
3Grey SwallowD. Weld10-1
Upset North Light in the Irish Derby, and is also bound for the Arc
4ValixirA. Fabre6-1
Earned his way into the Arc off a narrow decision in the Prix Niel
5Prospect ParkC. Laffon-Parias10-1
Ran Valixir to a nose in the Prix Niel, will seek revenge in the Arc
6PowerscourtA. O'Brien8-1
His first place finish in Arlington Million was flattered by Magistretti
7MagistrettiP. Biancone6-1
Could not have been more impressive visually winning the Man o' War
8MubtakerM. Tregoning20-1
Narrowly missed in last year's Arc, and is fresh for this year's running
9Kitten's JoyD. Romans12-1
One of the best 3yo turf specialists in years; the distance is a question
10Kicken KrisM. Matz12-1
Did well against some nice Euros when placed first in the Million

- Odds and commentary by Mike Watchmaker.