05/03/2007 12:00AM

US Ranger ready to step up

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The shocking defection Thursday of the favored Teofilo from the 2000 Guineas enhances the chance of French invader US Ranger in the $700,000 classic mile at Newmarket on Saturday.

Teofilo, the undefeated European juvenile champion, returned from what trainer Jim Bolger termed a "blowout" on Wednesday morning with soreness in his right fore knee and it was decided not to run him in the Guineas. The bad news follows closely Teofilo's missed week of work during the third week of April due to another setback. The withdrawal of Teofilo, the 2-1 antepost favorite for the Guineas, results in a $4 million windfall for the British bookmaking industry - and a $4 million loss for British bettors.

In his absence, US Ranger can pick up the Guineas pieces. Trained in France by Jean-Claude Rouget, the Danzig colt is undefeated in four starts which he has won by a combined 18 1/2 lengths. His most recent outing was a four-length score in the listed seven-furlong Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte on April 11. Christophe Lemaire will ride US Ranger, wearing the familiar blue and orange colors of Michael Tabor, who shares ownership with US Ranger's breeder, Joseph Allen.

But his task is not an easy one as he faces 23 rivals in the straight mile, which is being run for the 199th time on Saturday.

Adagio looks menacing as William Hill's new 11-4 favorite. A Michael Stoute-trained son of narrow 1994 Guineas runner-up Grand Lodge, he won the Group 3 Craven Stakes last month over the Guineas course and distance and is an improving sort who will have Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle.

Major Cadeaux impressed when taking the seven-furlong Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury two weeks ago by 3 1/2 lengths from Dutch Art, a two-time Group 1-winning juvenile who will struggle to stay a mile. Brian Meehan is high on Diamond Tycoon, a recent six-length Newbury mile maiden winner, while Strategic Prince is eligible to improve in his seasonal debut off a pair of juvenile Group 2 victories.

One of the most astute horsemen in the world, Tabor bought a half-interest in US Ranger this winter with the 2000 Guineas in mind. The last time the former bookie bought a 3-year-old in France was 1999 when Montjeu went on to win the Arc and, a year later, the King George. Tabor has hopes that US Ranger, although a confirmed miler, might just be in the same class.