10/09/2002 12:00AM

Del Mar Show resurfaces off Broadway


It's official, trainer Bill Mott is taking Del Mar Show off Broadway.

With major Grade 1 and Grade 2 turf races going on across the country the past few weekends, Mott is running Del Mar Show, a lifetime earner of $742,172, in the Grade 3, $150,000 Cliff Hanger Handicap Friday night at The Meadowlands.

Last winter, Del Mar Show was a top attraction in Mott's powerful barn and the sky was the limit. Now, with the Breeders' Cup only two weeks away, the Cliff Hanger in East Rutherford, N.J., isn't where Del Mar Show was supposed to end up.

"I didn't want to take on the horses in the two races over the past weekend," Mott said Wednesday, referring to the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont and the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. "Those races were a little tough for him right now."

In the 1 1/16-mile Cliff Hanger, Del Mar Show is top-weighted at 121 pounds, spotting his 10 rivals a hefty nine to 13 pounds, and lays over the field.

Del Mar Show's $310,000 earnings in 2002 more than double those of any other horse in the race. In fact, only one other Cliff Hangar runner has six-figure earnings this year - Spectacular Light, who, on the other hand, was last seen in a claiming race at Delaware Park.

Del Mar Show's record of 9 wins in 18 starts on grass tops the field in both number of wins and winning percentage. He won the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga in July with a 110 Beyer, easily the biggest win and the highest Beyer of any horse in the race. He has already won two

Grade 3's this year. On top of all that, Jerry Bailey is coming in from New York to ride.

Mott's biggest worry is the clunker performance given by Del Mar Show in his last appearance, a 10th-place finish - and his lowest Beyer all year - in the Grade 1 Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 8.

"He was never really into it," Mott said. "He went into it in good order, but he was just flat."

If Del Mar Show is flat again, the main benefactor might be River Rush, a winner of 5 of 11 lifetime turf starts, including his last three. River Rush almost always gets the lead early, and speed plays well on The Meadowlands turf.

The mystery horse is Madagascar, a David Donk-trained Argentine-bred 5-year-old with only three lifetime starts. Madagascar won two of those starts, both on grass, both at nine furlongs, and both impressively. In the last one, an allowance race at Belmont in June, Madagascar ran a 102 Beyer.

Donk knows Del Mar Show will be tough. "I'm surprised that they're going this route with him because he seemed to be one of the better grass-horse milers in the country," he said. "I guess he's a horse I hoped wasn't in there. But we'll see what happens."

- additional reporting by David Grening

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