08/08/2003 12:00AM

With Anticipation injured

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With Anticipation, a five-time Grade 1 winner who was aiming for a three-peat in Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, suffered an injury to his left foreleg, and was to be scratched from the race, trainer Jonathan Sheppard said.

"He does have sensitivity in a spot on the back of the pastern on the left front,'' Sheppard confirmed Friday afternoon. "We had it scanned and it did show a small tear. If you were a risk taker at a smaller racetrack you might stand him in ice and give him a shot of Bute, but we're not going to do that.''

Sheppard said he noticed inflammation in the gelding's left front ankle on Friday morning after he did some light exercise. Sheppard said With Anticipation would need a week of stall rest and about a month of light exercise before he could get serious with him. Thus, it is unlikely he would run again this year.

"I'm thinking it's probably unlikely he would return to the races this fall, but I'm not proclaiming it,'' Sheppard said. "[The veterinarian] doesn't feel it's serious enough that he has to have an extended period of time without training. You can only guess how quickly they're going to heal.''

Sheppard said he would give With Anticipation every opportunity to come back as a 9-year-old even if it meant running him in lesser company than he has kept. With Anticipation has run in 10 consecutive Grade 1 races. In his career, With Anticipation has won five Grade 1's including two runnings of the Sword Dancer and the Man o' War. He has earned $2,654,563 for owner George Strawbridge.

"I'm not going to run him if he's half the horse he used to be,'' Sheppard said. "If he can still compete at stakes level - he's a gelding - I don't see any reason not to continue on. Who knows? Maybe after two or three races against lesser company he might feel he's deserving of facing the big boys again.''