08/18/2001 12:00AM

Benburb 1-2 back in first Peninsula


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Beau Gentleman heads a field of nine runners in the $50,000 Peninsula Stakes at Fort Erie on Monday. The seven-furlong turf race is one of seven new stakes run here this year. The Peninsula is restricted to Canadian-foaled horses who have started at least twice at Fort Erie this year.

Beau Gentleman will be trying for his second consecutive stakes win for trainer Lynn Simon. Beau Gentleman, a

5-year-old gelding, captured the 1 1/16-mile Benburb Stakes on the turf July 22.

Guided by jockey Tony Rannelli, Beau Gentleman had a perfect rail trip in the Benburb and finished three lengths ahead of the 8-year-old Coastal Display, who had won the 1999 and 2000 editions of the event.

Coastal Display, who led to midstretch, is back to battle again and should relish the shorter distance of the Peninsula. He also should be tougher. His trainer, Sue Regen, had expressed concern before the Benburb that her runner was a race short in his conditioning, as several prep races she had him pointed for did not fill.

A surprise runner in the field is Malcoha. A 9-year-old who has earnings of $293,319, Malcoha ran just last Monday in the Cool Reception Stakes, finishing last. The horse, explained his trainer, Dan Poliziani, "has a bad foot, and going into the first turn he must have hit a stone or something and kind of jarred and bruised it. I didn't have a bar shoe on, but I may on Monday.

"He's a smart old horse. He just kind of pulled himself up when he got hurt - to protect himself. But he came out of it fine. He's not lame or anything. We're tubbing him and doing things with him. I'm sure he'll be all right." Malcoha won the Benburb Stakes in 1998 and and was honored that year as Fort Erie's horse of the year.

The Cinderella in the race may be Holy Innocents, who was claimed by trainer Raymond Pion as a maiden four starts ago for $16,000.

"In the race I claimed him from he fell down. I was scared," said Pion. "We worked on him and he was okay. I ran him back for $20,000 and he finished second. Then it was a maiden special weight next, and he won. Then it was an allowance and he won it. He's a nice horse."

Completing the field for the Peninsula will be Bold Arbitrage, My Guy Joe, Orpheus,

R J's Game, and Royal Spirit.