05/30/2001 11:00PM

Dr Greenfield has right stuff


Dr Greenfield is the wild card among the nine horses targeting the 133rd Belmont Stakes on June 9. Is he the next Go and Go or My Memoirs, European invaders who finished first and second in the race?

Or is he the next Arinthod or South Salem, European invaders who finished up the track?

Given the horse's record and that of his connections, it would appear that Dr Greenfield is not a horse to be readily dismissed.

A son of 1992 Epsom Derby winner Dr Devious, Dr Greenfield has won three of four lifetime starts, including the Dee Stakes, the same race My Memoirs used as a prep for the 1992 Belmont, in which he finished second to A. P. Indy. Team Valor purchased Dr Greenfield last Nov. 30, three weeks after he won a mile maiden race on the dirt by seven lengths.

"He's big, he can run all day, and he's got a little bit of lick to him," said Barry Irwin, president of the Team Valor syndicate, which owned My Memoirs and 1998 Belmont third-place finisher Thomas Jo. "He looks like a horse that can run well at Belmont."

Gerard Butler, who trained Dr Greenfield for Allen Livingston before Team Valor bought him, agrees.

"He is the perfect horse for it," Butler said. "He's got natural speed. When he broke his maiden, he did it in a very good time [1:37.40] by seven lengths. He showed a lot of good speed through the whole race. After going three furlongs, he had the race won. He has natural ability; he's a big strong horse. I believe he's the one you want for the Belmont."

Butler, 35, is no stranger to American racing. He worked for trainer D. Wayne Lukas from 1991-94, then for John Dunlop and California-based trainer Rodney Rash before going out on his own in 1997. Butler will come to America to saddle Dr Greenfield in the Belmont, but after the race the horse will remain in New York with trainer Bill Mott.

According to Butler, Dr Greenfield was getting ready to run last June at the Royal Ascot meeting when he suffered a setback. He did not debut until October, when he ran in a 29-horse maiden race at Newmarket and finished eighth, beaten six lengths.

After winning his maiden in November, Dr Greenfield didn't run again until April, when he won a 10-furlong classified stakes at Kempton. In both of those races the past performance line reads that the horse dwelt at the start. Butler said that was by design.

"We like to take him back and have him drop out of it behind horses and come with a late run," Butler said.

On Thursday, at his Churn Stable in Ireland, Butler tried his best to simulate the American gate experience with Dr Greenfield. He had people stand beside the horse in a stall, in an attempt to prepare him for the assistant starters who will be in the gate at the Belmont, and had a bell go off, which is what will happen when the gates open for the Belmont.

Butler planned to do the same thing with Dr Greenfield on Friday and then work him out of the gate on Saturday.

Dr Greenfield will arrive in New York on Tuesday, and after spending 36 hours in quarantine in Newburgh, he will van to Belmont Wednesday afternoon.

Day almost took off Dollar Bill

In the aftermath of another troubled trip in the Preakness for Dollar Bill, his rider, Pat Day, said he told trainer Dallas Stewart that maybe he wasn't the right rider to stay on the horse.

"After the Preakness I was very distraught," Day said during a Thursday conference call with reporters. "I was sorry for the horse. I know the horse is considerably better than he's had an opportunity to show. I talked with Dallas and said maybe it isn't right. As I said, it was an emotional moment. A little later I called him back and said I want to retract that statement."

While Day has taken a lot of heat for Dollar Bill's trouble in the Derby and Preakness, he said other riders contributed to the problems.

"We've just been a victim of circumstances and rider error, and not necessarily mine," he said.