02/15/2003 12:00AM

An ailing Lido Palace will miss Donn

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lido Palace, who would have been favored in next Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream, will not make the cross-country trip from California after coming down with a temperature, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

"He got sick,'' Frankel said Saturday from California. "He had a 102 temperature yesterday; his white blood count was high.''

The $500,000 Donn would have been the seasonal debut for Lido Palace, who closed out his 2002 campaign with a victory in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap. Frankel said Lido Palace, who won the Grade 1 Woodward in consecutive years, could be pointed to the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 2 if he comes around quickly.

The defection of Lido Palace prompted trainer Rick Violette to cancel plans to run Free of Love in a turf allowance race on Monday and instead point to the Donn.

"`It looks like the race is falling apart so I've got to take a shot," Violette said. "It looks like you've got to beat Harlan's Holiday and if he stubs his toe we've got to be awful tough. It's a Grade 1 and Grade 1's get tougher later in the year. The upside is significant enough where you could put the turf experiment off another month.''

With Lido Palace having been declared, Harlan's Holiday, last year's Florida Derby winner, was assigned high weight of 120 pounds for the Donn. Others expected to run, and their weight assignments, include Windsor Castle (116), Bonus Pack (115), Hero's Tribute (114), Saint Verre (114), Free of Love (113), Puzzlement (113), and Keats (111).

Saturday, Windsor Castle, winner of the Hal's Hope here on Jan. 11, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds, the fastest of 44 moves at the distance. Exercise rider Pat Correa was aboard.

"He didn't need to work in 59 but he did it easy,'' trainer Frank Alexander said. "I just wanted him to get a good blow out of it.''

Repent won't make Dubai World Cup

Repent, winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and runner-up in the Grade 1 Travers as a 3-year old, will not run in the Dubai World Cup, trainer Ken McPeek confirmed Saturday.

"He's on a slow comeback trail,'' McPeek said. "I'm being cautious because of a tendon issue. I need to take my time with him, it's that simple.''

Repent is believed to have suffered an injured tendon following a seventh-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last September. That knocked him out of the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Though Repent gallops every morning, McPeek said he would prefer to wait before attempting to bring him back to the races.

"If I get in too big a hurry, I'll aggravate it again,'' McPeek said.

Prado gets seven-day suspension

Jockey Edgar Prado was suspended seven days for careless riding in Thursday's fifth race. Prado finished second aboard Color of Roses, but was disqualified for allowing him to drift out and bump Capture the Wolf. Color of Roses finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Capture the Wolf, but was placed third by the stewards.

Prado has until Monday to decide whether to appeal the suspension, but said he most likely will. "I wasn't very happy about it, put it that way,'' he said.

Should Prado accept his suspension, he would be allowed to ride Harlan's Holiday in the Donn, under the designated race rule. However, he would have to serve an extra day.

Region of Merit romps in allowance

Region of Merit was kept out of last week's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct because of a minor respiratory illness, but the colt, and his connections, were breathing much easier following his impressive victory against second-level allowance competition in Saturday's third race.

Region of Merit, with Eibar Coa up, drew clear to a five-length victory while covering 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.32. It was his third straight victory following a loss in his debut on a sloppy track at Belmont Park.

Christophe Clement, who trains Region of Merit at Payson Park, said he pointed the 3-year-old colt for Saturday's race after electing not to travel to Aqueduct.

"He worked disappointingly last week, and when we scoped him he was a bit dirty, so we put him on antibiotics for three days," Clement said.

Clement said he did not know where Region of Merit would run next, though a stakes start seems a certainty. Saturday's race was the first around two turns for Region of Merit, whose two previous victories, at Aqueduct and at Gulfstream, were at seven furlongs.

Region of Merit, a colt by Touch Gold, is owned by the Calumet Farm of Henryk de Kwiatkowski, who was in attendance Saturday. De Kwiatkowski is best known for owning 1982 Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo, who won that year's Belmont Stakes.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman and Mike Welsch