10/27/2004 11:00PM

As usual, a field full of possibilities

Whipper has earned a considerable amount of respect from the European horsemen and writers who have descended upon the Dallas area in recent days.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The horses and jockeys and trainers may change from year to year, but one thing about the Breeders' Cup Mile always seems to stay the same: Getting your arms around all the handicapping variables is exceedingly difficult.

Happily for the tens of thousands of racing fans who will be watching and wagering Saturday, the 21st running of the BC Mile is no exception.

Where, then, to start the handicapping? Perhaps the most logical place is with the defending champion, Six Perfections, the French filly who won the Mile last year at Santa Anita with a stirring rally under Jerry Bailey. Six Perfections brings a mixed bag to her title defense this year: She is winless in three 2004 starts, but all were Group 1 races in which she ran respectably while favored, and she does have Bailey back again Saturday.

Six Perfections is an integral part of the annual Euro-versus-America struggle in which horseplayers often find themselves engrossed when they sit down to analyze the Mile. Three other European runners of varying ability also are part of the usual capacity field of 14: Whipper, who defeated Six Perfections in the Group 1 Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August; Diamond Green, an Andre Fabre-trained colt who has been no worse than third in 8 of 9 starts; and Antonius Pius, a longshot from the always-dangerous barn of Aidan O'Brien.

Whipper, a Kentucky-bred colt who brought a mere $4,000 as a weanling, has earned a considerable amount of respect from the European horsemen and writers who have descended upon the Dallas area in recent days. On his first training tour of Lone Star on Wednesday following a release from quarantine, Whipper had "no problems," said Robert Collet, the French trainer who upset the 1986 Mile with Last Tycoon. "I think he will be okay on this hippodrome."

Besides Collet's feat, Whipper has another piece of Breeders' Cup lore in his favor: his sire, Miesque's Son, was produced by Miesque, who won the Mile in 1987 and 1988 to become the first two-time winner in BC history.

Meanwhile, the sizable American contingent is headed by Nothing to Lose, whose breakout race was his latest, a 4 1/2-length triumph in the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland.

"We've always thought he was a special horse," said Ken Ramsey, who bred and owns Nothing to Lose in partnership with his wife, Sarah. "We hope he shows the world Saturday we were right."

The other highly regarded American runners include the accomplished duo of Special Ring and Blackdoun, whose trainer, Julio Canani, already is a two-time winner of the Mile with Silic (1999) and Val Royal (2001); Mr O'Brien, whose rousing victory three weeks ago in the Kelso BC Mile at Belmont Park was his ticket to Dallas; Silver Tree, a consistent and hard-trying colt who has been right there all year for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; and Musical Chimes, the California-based filly who defeated males three weeks ago in the Oak Tree BC Mile at Santa Anita.

And then there is Artie Schiller, one of five 3-year-olds in the field. Based in New York with trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Artie Schiller will be turning back Saturday after competing most of the year at slightly longer distances.

"We won't change his strategy just because he's turning back," said Jerkens, who once again has given veteran Richard Migliore the mount. "He's got a great kick when you let him go. You just can't force it early because it's a little shorter race."

As usual, there seems to be plenty of pace in the Mile; as always, racing luck will play a huge role in the outcome.

"On a seven-eighths track, anything can happen," said Canani. "You need luck, a lot of luck."

The balance of the Mile field consists of longshots Domestic Dispute, the Strub Stakes winner, who is 0 for 1 lifetime on grass; Singletary, a consistent but largely unheralded colt based in California with first-time BC trainer Don Chatlos; and Soaring Free, a Canadian speedster who is unbeaten in six turf tries this year, albeit while racing against opposition far inferior to what he will face Saturday.

Because two horses, Blackdoun and Mr O'Brien, were 9-percent supplemental entries, the total purse for the Mile will be $1,680,000, assuming both of those horses start.

The field

Breeders' Cup Mile
Purse: $1.68 million; 1 mile, turf; Grade 1

1WhipperC. Soumillon1228-1
2Silver TreeE. Prado12615-1
3Special RingV. Espinoza1266-1
4Soaring FreeT. Kabel12612-1
5Domestic DisputeK. John12630-1
6Artie SchillerR. Migliore12210-1
7Antonius PiusJ. Spencer12230-1
8Diamond GreenL. Dettori12215-1
9Musical ChimesK. Desormeaux12315-1
10SingletaryD. Flores12615-1
11Six PerfectionsJ. Bailey1235-1
12Nothing to LoseJ. Velazquez1264-1
13BlackdounC. Nakatani12212-1
14Mr O'BrienE. Coa12612-1

* 9 percent supplementary nominations: Blackdoun, Mr O'Brien
* Odds by Mike Watchmaker