09/03/2003 11:00PM

Don't look for boxcars on Whitmore's Conn

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - The odds have been in the double digits when Whitmore's Conn won his last two starts, the Grade 2 Bowling Green and Grade 1 Sword Dancer.

The odds don't figure to be as good on Saturday when Whitmore's Conn, a New York-bred, shoots for his third consecutive graded win in the $500,000 Man o' War at Belmont Park.

Whitmore's Conn, who was nearly 12-1 when he won the Bowling Green here in July and 25-1 when he took the Sword Dancer four weeks ago at Saratoga, is one of eight turf horses entered in the Grade 1 Man o' War. Evening Attire was entered main-track only.

All starters carry 126 pounds in the weight-for-age race, with the exception of Carpanetto who, as the lone 3-year-old in the field, carries 121 pounds.

The Man o' War field reunites the first four finishers from the Sword Dancer: Whitmore's Conn, Macaw, Slew Valley, and Denon.

Despite two consecutive losses as the favorite, Denon is the likely favorite for the powerful team of trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey in the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War.

Denon is 2 for 2 at Belmont, with wins in the Grade 1 Manhattan in June and last year's Grade 1 Turf Classic. After nearly a week's worth of rain, the Widener turf course should have some give to it, a condition which suits Denon.

Denon was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Whitmore's Conn in the Sword Dancer. Denon, who broke from the outside post 11, raced six wide down the backstretch. He made a quick move around the turn to gain the lead, but faded in the final furlong of the 1 1/2-mile race.

"He ran good at Saratoga - it just didn't work out," Frankel said. "He didn't draw the best post."

Denon drew outside again - post 8.

Jean-Luc Samyn was aboard Whitmore's Conn in the Bowling Green and Sword Dancer but is sidelined with a broken leg. Pat Day, who won the last two runnings of the Man o' War aboard With Anticipation, picks up the mount.

Randy Schulhofer, Whitmore's Conn's trainer, said Day is a good fit for his horse, who likes to come from off the pace.

Day, said Schulhofer, "has a lot of patience. He also rides that distance very well."

Macaw has put forth some terrific efforts in graded races in his last three starts. He finished fourth in the Manhattan, third in the Bowling Green, and second in the Sword Dancer. Macaw was beaten a combined 4 3/4 lengths in those races.

"I always thought he was a good horse," said Barclay Tagg, Macaw's trainer. "He's gotten better in every race."

Shaun Bridgmohan rides Macaw, who likes soft going, from post 2.

After finishing eighth in the Sword Dancer, Lunar Sovereign returns to his favorite surface. He is 3 for 3 on the Belmont turf.

Balto Star, coupled in the wagering with Deeliteful Irving, is the likely pacesetter, if he starts. Balto Star's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said that he would be reluctant to run if the turf had a lot of moisture in it. In his last start, Balto Star was pressed for the early lead in the Sword Dancer and finished last.

Carpanetto, second in a listed stakes in Ireland last month, makes his American debut for trainer Aidan O'Brien.