07/02/2002 11:00PM

A cross-country marathon


ELMONT, N.Y. - Across the country many trainers will be active on Saturday but none more so than Bobby Frankel, whose national stable will have 10 starters if all goes according to plans.

Frankel will be here in New York, where Lido Palace, owned by the Amerman family, will be one of the favorites in the $500,000 Suburban Handicap at 1 1/4 miles. Lido Palace is the winner of $1.7 million to date. Frankel will also have one of the favorites for the $200,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies. He will saddle Drippingindiamonds, who has won all three of her starts. Still another interesting starter at Belmont Saturday from Frankel's well-stocked barn is the Argentine import Not Phone, who will be making his U.S. debut.

Frankel will have three runners at Hollywood Park Saturday, including the highly regarded Megahertz , 4 for 4, in the $500,000 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles on the turf course. He will also run the promising Surya, 2 for 2 in this country, in the $100,000 Royal Heroine for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf. He had planned to run Aldebaran in the $300,000 Triple Bend Invitational at seven furlongs but was hesitant to ship from New York, which is gripped by a heat wave. Denon, recent winner of the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham Stakes at Hollywood Park, will be Frankel's candidate for Monmouth Park's $500,000 United Nations Handicap Saturday. The Frankel-trained Senure won the United Nations last season. The Frankel stable will also be present at Prairie Meadows in Iowa Saturday for the $400,000 Cornhusker Handicap. Euchre, who won the race last summer, will be back to bid for a second victory.

Frankel is not the first trainer to have horses in several areas on the same day. The Joneses of Calumet Farm were doing it 50 years ago when air transportation of horses wasn't as advanced as it is now. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert have had multiple runners on numerous occasions, and there have been others. But no one has operated as extensively as Frankel, or on such a wide-ranging scale.

Frankel, whose stable won over $14.6 million last year, is the money-winning leader this season with some $6.6 million at the half-way mark. His success is contagious in that the more he wins, the more top-quality horses find their way to his barn.

Little rascals

Possibly encouraged by the warm reception accorded "Seabiscuit," there has been an explosion in the publication of books on racing this year.

One of the latest titles, and one of the most delightful, is "Rascals and Racehorses" by Cot Campbell of Dogwood Farm (Eclipse Press, Lexington, Ky., $24.95). Campbell, who has introduced hundreds of individuals to racing through his Dogwood partnerships, is a gifted commentator on the scene, and the charming rogues who seem to be attracted to it.

One of the scenes is set in a restaurant in Cicero, Ill., in the early 1930's. The restaurant was closed that evening but several men were dining in the kitchen, and the unlikely guest list included Ben and Jimmy Jones, and Al Capone.

The Joneses were winning races at the Chicago tracks and their success was noted by Capone, who loved to win a bet. He made them a dinner offer they couldn't refuse and during the course of the evening made a proposition.

The Joneses had a $10,000 filly named Missouri Waltz. They entered her for $5,000, tipped Capone, and ran her. She galloped and Capone was delighted. His vision of a series of sure things appeared to be in place but the Joneses had other plans. Their reaction makes for intriguing reading, and the other stories in this colorful tapestry of the turf are equally entertaining.

If you love racing, you're sure to enjoy "Rascals and Racehorses." It's a sure winner.