ELMONT, N.Y., OCT. 24 -- The draw for post positions in the Breeders' Cup Classic may have ruined the chances of two of its leading contenders, Dispersal and Unbridled.

But even though those colts wound up in the disastrous 12 and 14 posts, they were luckier than another horse who had been considered one of the strongest entrants in the world's richest race. Quiet American didn't get into the field at all -- a selection committee snubbed him in favor of seemingly less talented horses.

Ordinarily, the taking of entries for the Classic generates little drama, for the race usually draws a field of moderate size. But an overflow field of 16 was entered today, of whom 14 can start.

The field will break from a gate positioned awkwardly on the clubhouse turn, because Belmont's 1 1/2-mile oval is not naturally suited for a 1 1/4-mile race. Horses who break from the outside will be parked wide and lose so much ground the post position draw was a preoccupation of every trainer.

Bud Delp, trainer of the favored Dispersal, said earlier in the week that the post position was his No. 1 concern: "If you don't draw in the first six, you're going to be camping out there." From No. 12, Dispersal had better bring a tent. De Roche, another legitimate contender, and Unbridled, the Kentucky Derby winner, will start outside him.

Unbridled's trainer, Carl Nafzger, said he thought his stretch-running colt would be hurt less by the draw than would the front-running Dispersal. "If I were Bud Delp, I'd be throwing up," he said. "Dispersal is a horse that's dead."

The big winner in the draw was the well-regarded Canadian colt, Izvestia, who will start from the rail.

But the major topic of the day was the selection committee's snub of Quiet American. Under the Breeders' Cup rules, a point system (based on performance in graded stakes events) automatically determines nine of the starters. The other five are chosen by a committee composed of racing secretaries.

In the view of most handicappers, Quiet American was the most formidable of all those horses. In his last start, the Woodward Stakes, he finished only 1 1/4 lengths behind Dispersal. In his start before that, he trounced the Eclipse Award-winning mare, Bayakoa.

He probably would have been no more than 5 to 1 in the Classic. Yet the committee preferred Ibn Bey, an English distance runner who has never raced on dirt, and Goodwood Stakes-winner Lively One, whose presence in trainer Charlie Whittingham's barn seemed a factor.

Quiet American's trainer, Gary Jones, was aghast. "I've been preparing for this race all year long," he said. "I passed up races in California where we'd be the 3-to-5 favorite in order to be here. I haven't got the foggiest idea what the selection committee was thinking about.

"They've just given me a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. Maybe they didn't see the Woodward. I just wonder if they're inviting horses or people. I wonder what would have happened if Whittingham or {trainer Wayne} Lukas were listed as the trainer of Quiet American."

Lenny Hale, chairman of the selection committee, responded: "I'm surprised that Gary would stoop to that kind of remark."

But Hale declined to explain the committee's reasoning, except to say that horses such as Ibn Bey and Lively One recently had won graded stakes and Quiet American had not. He said the fact Ibn Bey never had raced on the dirt was not a factor.

"The committee voted on its preferences," Hale said. "Quiet American was the 15th horse."