03/21/2005 12:00AM

Americans seek fifth World Cup win

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The American domination of the $6 million Dubai World Cup is expected to continue on Saturday when Congrats, Choctaw Nation, Lundy's Liability, and Roses in May will start in the world's richest race in this desert country.

American-trained horses have won four of the nine previous runnings of the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba racecourse. Odds in England have Roses in May, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park last October, as the 3-2 favorite. Congrats is 6-1, Lundy's Liability is 7-1, and the stretch-running Choctaw Nation is 14-1.

Among the American horsemen on hand is trainer Richard Mandella, who won the 2004 running with Pleasantly Perfect and starts Congrats this year. Congrats is the horse that most concerns Dale Romans, the trainer of Roses in May.

"I think Congrats is the horse to beat," Romans said. "I don't think Richard would have brought him all the way over here if he didn't think he had a chance."

None of the four American-based hopefuls is coming off a victory.

Roses in May, who races for Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, finished second in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5, his lone start of the year. Choctaw Nation was fourth in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs on Feb. 26 at Santa Anita.

Congrats and Lundy's Liability finished second and fifth, respectively, in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5. Congrats won the San Pasqual Handicap on Jan. 8 and was third behind Lundy's Liability in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 6.

Their rivals include nine probable starters, including Grande Hombre and Ruler's Court, owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing; Chiquitin, Elmustanser, Jack Sullivan, and Yard-Arm, all winners this year at Nad Al Sheba; Adjudi Mitsuo from Japan; and Dynever and King's Boy from Saudi Arabia.

Dynever, third in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic, finished second in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 8. He has been training in Saudi Arabia for the last several weeks.

Ruler's Court won the 2003 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita, but missed 2004 because of injury. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Ruler's Court has made only one subsequent start, finishing sixth of 10 behind the winning Chiquitin in a stakes on March 5.

If all 13 start, it will be the largest field since Dubai Millennium defeated 12 rivals in 2000.

There have been four American-based winners of the Dubai World Cup since the race was inaugurated - Cigar (1996), Silver Charm (1998), Captain Steve (2001), and Pleasantly Perfect.

Three of the American horses worked over the weekend. Lundy's Liability was scheduled to arrive on Monday evening, but was delayed, racing officials said.

Congrats worked 1,200 meters, or about six furlongs, in 1:13 on Saturday. On Monday, Choctaw Nation went the same distance in 1:13.80, and Roses in May worked 1,000 meters in 1:01.72.

Roses in May worked under the lights at Nad Al Sheba, giving the 5-year-old the experience of racing under conditions similar to Saturday's 9:20 p.m. post time (12:20 p.m. Eastern).

Working solo, Roses in May ran on the wrong lead through most of the three-furlong stretch, which is longer than any in American racing.

"He switched up there a couple of times, like he saw something. I think he'll be fine," Romans said. "I don't think the American horses are used to staying on their right leads for three-eighths of a mile. He got to see everything under the lights."

Mandella said Congrats took the trip without incident last week. He described Congrats's workout as a "nice, steady work. We didn't want to do much. He just ran in the Santa Anita Handicap."

Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Congrats was eager to do more than just gallop at Nad Al Sheba on Monday morning, having returned to the racetrack after walking on Sunday.

"He looked like he was trying to take off down the stretch," Mandella said.

Choctaw Nation, who defeated Pleasantly Perfect in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last summer, worked alone on Monday. Trainer Jeff Mullins arrived overnight and said he was impressed with the condition of the 5-year-old gelding, particularly his coat.

"He looked better when I got here than when I left," Mullins said.

Owned by Bob Bone, Choctaw Nation lost the San Carlos by two lengths in his lone start of the year.

Lundy's Liability was scheduled to arrive in Dubai late Monday. Trainer Bobby Frankel kept Lundy's Liability and Marenostrum, a probable starter for the $2 million UAE Derby on Saturday's undercard, in California for an additional week to monitor their progress.