08/07/2007 11:00PM

U.S. looking like a Million


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Eight horses were entered Wednesday in the 25th edition of the Arlington Million. Three come from overseas, another from Canada - but this looks like a year for the home team, with three especially talented U.S.-based grass horses entered in the signature race of the Arlington Park season.

First mention must go to The Tin Man, who won the Million last year at age 8, and is back - apparently going as good as ever - at age 9, attempting to become just the second horse to win the Million twice. But another Californian, After Market, may be the horse of the moment. A winner of the first four races of his career, After Market has turned into a dervish this summer, winning three straight California graded turf stakes with powerful finishes.

While Million mainstays Better Talk Now and English Channel are staying home for the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga this year, another New Yorker, Sunriver, could prove a worthy substitute. Sunriver's once-promising career seemed to be sputtering until a recent switch to grass racing. Now, Sunriver has won two in a row, including a last-out victory in the Bowling Green Handicap.

Jambalaya, the Canadian horse, drew post 1, and will be ridden by Robby Albarado. Then comes Sunriver (Garrett Gomez), the French horse Doctor Dino (John Murtagh), After Market (Alex Solis), The Tin Man (Victor Espinoza), England-based Pressing (David Flores), Stream Cat (Julien Leparoux), and the Irish import Danak (Mick Kinane). After Market was made the 2-1 favorite on Arlington's morning line, with The Tin Man the 3-1 second choice.

The Tin Man coasted on an easy lead on his way to victory last year, but should be kept honest this time by Sunriver, who has led gate-to-wire in both his grass victories.

Outside horses can be at a disadvantage in the Million, since the 1 1/4-mile turf configuration requires the starting gate be placed at the end of the far turn, and stalls on the far outside of the gate lean out over the crown of the course. Danak, who has post 8, figures to drop back for position at the start, as does Stream Cat, who breaks from post 7.

The Million goes as race 9 on a 12-race card, and is immediately preceded by the two other Grade 1 turf races on the card, the Secretariat (race 7) and the Beverly D.

Million Day races could well be held over a wet turf course. Extremely hot and muggy conditions have persisted in recent days, with thundershowers striking the area throughout the week. Saturday's forecast, however, calls for sunny skies and a high in the upper 80s.