07/09/2001 12:00AM

Bailey brings out best in E Dubai


ELMONT, N.Y. - The leader board on page 2 of this newspaper pretty well tells the story.

The national standings for jockeys shows Jerry Bailey leading in purses won with a total of $12.2 million, his margin almost $5 million over the second name on the list, Jorge Chavez. Bailey enhanced his position over the weekend with a pair of sparkling performances, riding E Dubai to a front-running seven-length victory in Sunday's $145,500 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds, and bringing King Cugat from last place Saturday to win the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at a mile and three furlongs on the turf course.

E Dubai's triumph on a sloppy track in the Dwyer may cast the longer shadow. Sheikh Mohammed's Mr. Prospector colt, making the sixth start of his career, is just learning how to run. He showed progress in late May when he finished second in the Peter Pan Stakes despite lunging at the start. There was a good deal more progress made in the Dwyer, to the point where E Dubai merits consideration for the $1 million Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 25.

Purchased at the Keeneland September yearling sales for $1.35 million, he made a couple of starts at Del Mar as a 2-year-old, won a stakes at Dubai over the winter, and was impressive in an allowance victory here at Belmont before the Peter Pan. After an awkward start in the Peter Pan, he dueled with Hero's Tribute through a half-mile in 44.87 seconds and six furlongs in 1:08.59 before flattening out.

Bailey chose to seize the initiative in the Dwyer and E Dubai seemed to revel in the lead. He went a half-mile in 44.90 seconds, the six furlongs in 1:07.93, and the mile in 1:33.54, en route to the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.38. In the eight years that the Dwyer has been run at that distance, this was the fastest running.

Can E Dubai go from the 1 1/16 miles of the Dwyer to the 1 1/4 miles of the Travers? You may have an opinion but no one really knows until he does it. There is an opportunity to run a 1 1/8 miles in the $600,000 Jim Dandy on Aug. 4, but Tom Albertrani, who directs the Sheikh's horses in New York, notes E Dubai had six weeks between races going into the Dwyer and appeared to benefit from the extra time.

King Cugat: He did it his way

After near-misses in two stakes earlier this season, Bailey attempted to move a little sooner with King Cugat in last month's Manhattan Handicap, only to finish second again. For the Bowling Green, Bailey proposed to let the 4-year-old Kingmambo horse run his own race, and trainer Bill Mott concurred. King Cugat came away casually, settled in stride, picked up momentum, and ate up the field. He was in front at the furlong pole, despite racing five wide, and looked to be much the best.

In fact, since he was purchased by Centennial Farm at Saratoga for $110,000, King Cugat has been a very fine horse, winning seven of 14 starts, with five seconds and a third and earning over $1 million. His next start is the Arlington Million on Aug. 18, and if he meets the West's formidable Bienamado, this could be a watershed occasion.