10/21/2003 11:00PM

Battle lines drawn for Cup

Hold That Tiger hits the Santa Anita track in preparation for his Classic start, which is expected to come with the temperature in the mid-80's.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The longer Ten Most Wanted waits in the gate, the more anxious he can get, so his trainer and co-owner, Wally Dollase, was relieved on Wednesday when Ten Most Wanted drew the outside post in Saturday's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic, highlight of the $14 million World Thoroughbred Championships program at Santa Anita.

A field of 10, as expected, was entered in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. With a run to the first turn of almost five furlongs, Ten Most Wanted should be able to get into whatever position jockey Pat Day desires early in the race.

Dollase was willing to sacrifice a bit of lost ground, being as Ten Most Wanted prefers to rally outside horses and can get antsy awaiting the start.

"I love the post," Dollase said. "He can get very anxious in the gate. He's proven that before. He won't be in the gate too long this time. He should be nice and relaxed when he comes out."

Ten Most Wanted has won the Travers Stakes and Super Derby in his last two starts. A victory in the Classic would made a compelling case for Ten Most Wanted to be voted the Eclipse Award at least as champion 3-year-old male, since neither Empire Maker nor Funny Cide, the Triple Crown race winners, has defeated older horses this year.

Funny Cide, of course, will have the same chance as Ten Most Wanted to beat older horses, since he, too, is in the Classic. He drew post 4.

Medaglia d'Oro, whose three victories this year include the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita, was made the 3-1 favorite by Santa Anita's linemaker, Jeff Tufts. He drew post 8. Perfect Drift, whose biggest victory this year came when he defeated Mineshaft in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, is the second choice at 7-2. A victory by either Medaglia d'Oro or Perfect Drift could make him Horse of the Year.

The Classic is the last of eight Breeders' Cup races that will be run on Saturday. There are four other races on the program, one preceding the Breeders' Cup, and three following. The day begins early, with first post time at 9:40 a.m. Pacific. The Distaff, the day's first Breeders' Cup race, is scheduled for 10:20 a.m., with the Classic at 2:35 p.m. The final six Breeders' Cup races make up a pick six that has a guaranteed pool of $3 million.

It has been unseasonably warm all week here, and it will remain so through Saturday. The high at Santa Anita on Wednesday was 96 degrees. Highs in the upper 80's are forecast the rest of the week, with a high of 86 on Saturday.

Final fields for all eight races were determined on Wednesday morning, the final part of a two-stage entry process that began with pre-entries last week. On Wednesday, the connections of all horses who had been pre-entered in two races had to declare as to which race they would compete. After that, posts were determined, using a traditional blind draw.

A total of 91 horses were entered Wednesday in the eight races, the fewest since the Breeders' Cup extended its program from seven to eight races with the addition of the Filly and Mare Turf in 1999. There are full fields of 14 in two of the races, the Juvenile Fillies and Mile.

The only race in which horses were excluded from starting was the Mile, which had 17 horses who had been pre-entered. In that race, seven starters were determined by points earned in graded stakes in the United States this year, and the remaining seven were chosen by a panel of international racing officials.

The large field in the Juvenile Fillies might compromise the morning-line favorite, the unbeaten Halfbridled, who landed the outside post in the field of 14. She is 7-5 on Tufts's line. Cuvee, the morning-line favorite in the Juvenile, also drew poorly, landing the far outside in that 12-horse field. He is 8-5 on Tufts's line.

Other morning-line favorites are Sightseek (6-5) in the Distaff, Special Ring (4-1) in the Mile, Aldebaran (3-1) in the Sprint, Islington (3-1) in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Storming Home (5-2) in the Turf.

Bobby Frankel, who trains Aldebaran, Medaglia d'Oro, and Sightseek, has the most entrants, with eight. John Velazquez is the only jockey with a mount in every race.

Frankel was happy with Medaglia d'Oro's post. He believes that Congaree, who is drawn outside of Medaglia d'Oro, will be committed to the lead, and that Medaglia d'Oro can get a good trip after letting Congaree clear him.

"If they do what I think they're saying they're going to do with Congaree, I see Medaglia d'Oro laying second or third," Frankel said. "But if they don't go, we won't hold Medaglia d'Oro back. Hopefully I'll break [well]."

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Congaree, said, "The break will tell you what is going to happen.

"The draw is fine. Here you have the whole track to get position."

Perfect Drift ended up in post 7, just inside of both Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree.

"The post is fine," said Murray Johnson, the trainer of Perfect Drift. "It looks like the speed is mostly outside of us with the exception of Funny Cide. Everyone we need to watch is close to us, so we're in good shape."

Perfect Drift had his usual Wednesday training session, a fast-paced gallop at the Trackside training facility in Louisville, Ky. He was scheduled to fly to California on Thursday.

Ten Most Wanted is scheduled to be sent by van to Santa Anita from Hollywood Park on Thursday. Medaglia d'Oro will make the same crosstown trip on Friday.

Evening Attire, Funny Cide, and Volponi arrived Wednesday after a flight from New York.

The field, from the rail out, including Tufts's line, is Evening Attire (Velazquez the rider), 15-1; Pleasantly Perfect (Alex Solis), 10-1; Volponi (Jose Santos), 15-1; Funny Cide (Julie Krone), 8-1; Hold That Tiger (Edgar Prado), 12-1; Dynever (Corey Nakatani), 15-1; Perfect Drift (Gary Stevens), 7-2; Medaglia d'Oro (Jerry Bailey), 3-1; Congaree (Patrick Valenzuela), 6-1; and Ten Most Wanted (Day), 4-1.

The head-to-head matchup in this race pits Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, against the Classic's defending champion, Volponi.