06/30/2002 11:00PM

Buddha out of the Dwyer

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Will someone kindly remove the black cat hiding out in the Belmont Park racing office?

The cursed department, which has seen a number of top-quality horses miss stakes engagements because of various infirmities or other reasons, lost two more Grade 1 winners Monday when the connections of Buddha and England's Legend withdrew their horses from upcoming holiday weekend stakes races.

In the last few weeks, the New York Racing Association has lost stakes horses including Victory Ride (Phipps); Take Charge Lady, Belterra, and Bella Bellucci (Mother Goose); Cashier's Dream (Prioress); Street Cry (Suburban); and Flying Dash (Hill Prince).

On Monday, trainer James Bond was accompanying Wood Memorial winner Buddha to the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga for his final workout before Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes when he heard the horse cough. And he coughed again.

Bond said Buddha coughed five times and a follow-up endoscopic examination showed mucous in his lungs, meaning Buddha will miss the Grade 2 Dwyer. Buddha was also scratched out of the Kentucky Derby with a bruised foot.

"He was one work away from going a mile and a sixteenth," Bond said, referring to the Dwyer distance. "Now, I'll have to go to plan B."

Bond, whose main goal for Buddha is the Travers on Aug. 24, said plan B is to wait for the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 4.

"It's not that big a deal to me," Bond said of missing the Dwyer. "The Travers is the ultimate goal. I do need to run in a prep before then and the Jim Dandy will be the spot I most likely will pick out."

The loss of Buddha leaves the Dwyer a bit hungry. Among those pointing to the race are Riva Ridge winner Gygistar, Yankee Gentleman, Essayons, and Nothing Flat. Tony Reinstedler may consider running either Peekskill or Stephentown.

On Monday, Nothing Flat worked five furlongs in 1:01.42 at Belmont for trainer Nick Zito.

England's Legend out of New York

England's Legend, winner of last year's New York Handicap and the assigned topweight for Thursday's 59th renewal of the 10-furlong turf race for fillies and mares, came out of a recent workout a bit stiff and will not run, trainer Christophe Clement said.

The race would have been the first for England's Legend - who also won last year's Grade 1 Beverly D. - since she ran 11th as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Last Thursday, England's Legend breezed five furlongs in 1:01.25 over the Belmont turf course.

"She came back a bit stiff, not bad, but she needs a bit more time," Clement said. "I don't know when we'll come back, maybe the Diana." The Diana is run on July 27 at Saratoga.

Clement will still be represented in the New York Handicap with Volga, who finished fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and who is coming off a third-level allowance win over this course on June 13.

The loss of England's Legend means Janet, a multiple Grade 1 winner in California, will be the starting highweight at 119 pounds. Trainer Darrell Vienna said Janet was expected to arrive in New York on Monday night. David Flores is expected in for the ride.

Others expected for the New York Handicap are Sheepshead Bay 1-3-4 finishers Tweedside, Golden Corona, and Owsley. Five Fishes is listed as a possible runner.

Rodriquez: Lido Palace is ready

Jockey Rudy Rodriguez may not ride the best stock in the afternoon, but he has been getting on some real nice horses in the morning. Most notably, Rodriguez has been the workout rider for Lido Palace, who will make his seasonal debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap.

After putting Lido Palace through a five-furlong workout in 1:02.20 on Monday, Rodriguez declared Lido Palace fit and ready for his match-up with Macho Uno. Last week, Rodriguez was aboard for a seven-furlong move in 1:24 in which he galloped out a mile in 1:37.

"Right now, he's 110 percent," Rodriguez said. "He looks very good right now. He looks the same as last year when I was getting on him. If he runs the same way he ran last year we will be in good shape. His last couple of works he came back like he wasn't even breathing. Today, I let him gallop, just held my hands down. He saw another horse galloping in front of him and he got in the bridle."

Lido Palace finished second in last year's Suburban then came back to win the Whitney and Woodward before ending his season with an eighth-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt. He has not been out since finishing fourth in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 3.

Lido Palace and Macho Uno, the Massachusetts Handicap winner, were each assigned 119 pounds. Also expected to run are Seeking Daylight (116), Evening Attire (114), Country Be Gold (112). Pleasant Breeze (114) and Saint Verre (111) are possible while E Dubai (116) is doubtful.

On Saturday, Evening Attire drilled six furlongs in 1:10.71 while Seeking Daylight breezed a half-mile in 47.65 seconds. Macho Uno was credited with a half-mile move in 50.85 seconds, though trainer Joe Orseno said it was just an open gallop.

Gander sharp in victory

Gander, last year's Meadowlands Cup winner, ended a five-race losing streak Sunday, winning a money allowance race by four lengths. Under John Velazquez, Gander covered 1 1/16 miles in a sharp 1:41.09.

Gander had his difficulties earlier this year losing the Kings Point Handicap by a nose and injuring a stifle while finishing third in a classified allowance race on May 15. Sunday, those problems looked behind him.

"He's still got it," trainer John Terranova said of his 6-year-old New York-bred gelding who pushed his career earnings to $1,373,688. "Everybody lost faith. I'm so relieved he ran well. He pulled a stifle muscle last time, it was relatively minor, but Gander is such a smart horse he took care of himself and didn't put out a big effort."

Terranova said he would consider running Gander back in the Evan Shipman Stakes here on July 21.

News wasn't all good out of the Terranova barn over the weekend. Deputy Dash, a promising 3-year-old colt who most recently finished third in the Peter Pan, was diagnosed with a chip in his left front ankle. He left via van on Monday for Lexington, Ky., where he will have the chip surgically removed by Dr. Larry Bramlage at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic.

Terranova was considering running Deputy Dash in either the Iowa Derby or the Ohio Derby.

* Trainer Frank Alexander said Mother Goose winner Nonsuch Bay came out of her race in good order and would most likely make her next start in the Alabama on Aug. 17 at Saratoga. On Saturday, Alexander also won the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park with Babae, who will now be pointed to the Diana Handicap at Saratoga on July 27.

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