08/14/2002 11:00PM

A 10-horse scramble at 10 furlongs


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The field for Saturday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap doesn't include the best of the handicap division, but the race nonetheless is competitive.

Among the 10 older horses entered in the 1 1/4-mile Saratoga Breeders' Cup are millionaires Dollar Bill, Gander, and Unshaded.

There doesn't appear to be a clear-cut favorite in this Grade 2. Three horses, El Gran Papa, Abreeze, and Baseball Champion, who was also entered in a Friday allowance race, are coming off big wins in allowance races at the meet. In their last starts, Dollar Bill, Evening Attire, and Unshaded each suffered losses in stakes featuring a higher caliber of competition.

Evening Attire, who began the season with a win in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap in January, is coming off a fourth in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban on July 4.

Evening Attire's trainer, Pat Kelly, said he wasn't 100 percent certain to run and might also enter Sunday's Iselin at Monmouth. "We'll evaluate the spots," Kelly said. "We've had a long year and we've definitely been running against some tough horses." Shaun Bridgmohan rides from post 9.

Dollar Bill, third in last year's Travers, has made a good living picking up checks in major races, but he hasn't won a stakes since the Risen Star in February 2001. This year, he has one win against allowance horses at Fair Grounds and he also has in-the-money finishes in three Grade 1's and a Grade 2.

Trainer Dallas Stewart is hopeful this is the spot where Dollar Bill, who is the 117-pound highweight, can get a win.

"He's been running in some tough races," Stewart said. "We want to see him win one. He's such an honest horse - it's hard not to like him."

Dollar Bill, who would benefit from a fast pace, drew the rail. John Velazquez rides Dollar Bill for the first time.

Gander, fourth in this race last year, likely will play a prominent role in the early going. Gander was bothered by a pulled stifle earlier in the season, but got back on track at Belmont Park on June 30 when he won a condition allowance race by four lengths.

"We purposely pointed for this race and skipped the Evan Shipman because he is better with time in between," said Gander's trainer, John Terranova. "He usually runs well up here."

Mike Smith, in town from California to ride Bella Bellucci in Saturday's Alabama, has the mount. Velazquez, who had been riding Gander this year, had a commitment on E Dubai who ended up skipping the race, but by then Terranova already had secured the services of Smith.

El Gran Papa has three sharp dirt efforts this year and is a legitimate contender for white-hot trainer Bobby Frankel, who has four stakes wins at the meet. Frankel won this race last year with Aptitude.