10/12/2004 12:00AM

Dutrow cites training setback


Saint Liam, who was narrowly beaten by Ghostzapper in last month's Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park, had a recent training setback that might prevent him from running in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., said Tuesday morning.

According to Dutrow, Saint Liam "was not himself for three or four days" last week. Although nothing serious turned up, and Saint Liam has resumed training, Dutrow is being circumspect regarding the Classic.

"I'm not so sure we're going to go," Dutrow said. "He might have come up with a little virus. He didn't spike a fever, and he didn't miss an oat, but he wasn't really right, and that leads me to believe he shouldn't run.

"I'm leaning towards taking a pass on it right now. Not because we want to, but he did what he did for a reason, and I'm afraid of making a bad move with him. I've never been in this spot before, and I don't want to [mess] it up. If he ran in the Breeders' Cup and ran terrible, I'd feel like an idiot."

Dutrow said Saint Liam was scheduled to have a workout at Aqueduct on Wednesday morning.

"He's going to go five furlongs and gallop out six," the trainer said. "Let's see how he comes out of it."

Dutrow said he and owner William Warren Jr. might not make a decision until pre-entries are due on Monday.

"Anything's possible at this point," Dutrow said. "But if they ask me what I want to do, I'd pass."

Saint Liam lost by a neck in the Woodward after drifting out during the stretch. It was his first start in five months.

"Maybe that last race took something out of him, and that's why he went the other way," Dutrow said.

Dutrow said that if Saint Liam skips the Classic, his most likely next start would be the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 27.

If Saint Liam, who has sharp early speed, does indeed come out of the Classic, his absence would significantly alter the probable pace scenario in the 1 1/4-mile race. Roses in May, the winner of the Whitney Handicap, would be the biggest beneficiary, since he also prefers to set swift early fractions. There are other horses who like to lay close, but none with the speed of Roses in May.

A large field is expected for the Classic, including Ghostzapper and the defending Classic champion, Pleasantly Perfect, as well as Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone and 2003 Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.