09/06/2002 11:00PM

With Anticipation rally prevents theft

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ELMONT, N.Y. - With Anticipation has been involved in some exciting finishes this year, and his win in Saturday's $500,000 at Belmont Park was no exception.

With Anticipation, the 4-5 favorite, looked like he was beaten early in the stretch, but the 7-year-old found another gear and blew by pacesetter Balto Star in the final yards for a length victory.

It was With Anticipation's third consecutive victory in a Grade 1 after wins in the United Nations and Sword Dancer. Last year, With Anticipation won the Sword Dancer and Man o' War and was disqualified from first and placed second for interference in the United Nations.

With Anticipation tracked Balto Star through pedestrian fractions, including a mile in 1:40.18. Early in the stretch it appeared that Balto Star, under Richard Migliore, would steal the 1 3/8-mile grass race, but With Anticipation and his rider, Pat Day, had other ideas.

Day said, "My horse doesn't have quick acceleration; it takes him a while to get going. Once he's in gear, he reaches out and he strides across the racetrack."

With Anticipation's final time of 2:15.05 over the firm turf was nearly identical to his time of 2:15.11 last year. The final eighth was run in a spirited 11.34 seconds.

Man From Wicklow finished third, a half-length behind Balto Star, after his rider, Javier Castellano lost his whip in deep stretch. Skipping, Lord Flasheart, Regal Dynasty, Blazing Fury, and Tobougg completed the order of finish.

With Anticipation ($3.90) will now be pointed to the $750,000 Turf Classic on Sept. 29. Last year after the Man o' War, trainer Jonathan Sheppard opted to skip the Turf Classic with With Anticipation and go directly to the Breeders' Cup Turf. With Anticipation finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup.

Sheppard, who trains With Anticipation for Augustin Stable, said sometimes a race is easier than a layoff, especially with older horses.

"There are two ways of looking at it," Sheppard said. "We tried the other way last year, and that didn't work."

With Anticipation has a record of 15-8-7 from 42 starts and earnings of $2,157,204.