02/04/2004 12:00AM

Eight set for Donn showdown


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - As expected, a field of eight that includes Medaglia d'Oro and Eclipse Award winner Funny Cide was drawn Wednesday for Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The Grade 1 Donn, the richest and most prestigious race of the meet for older horses, will be decided at 1 1/8 miles.

Medaglia d'Oro drew post 3 and was made the 8-5 favorite for the Grade 1 Donn by track linemaker Chuck Streva. Funny Cide drew post 5 and was made a 2-1 second choice.

The rest of the field, from the rail out, is Country Be Gold, Puzzlement, Predawn Raid, Bowman's Band, Seattle Fitz, and The Judge Sez Who.

Medaglia d'Oro will carry high weight of 122 pounds, including Jerry Bailey. Funny Cide gets in under 119 pounds and his regular rider, Jose Santos.

After heavy rains left the racetrack deep, muddy, and virtually unavailable for training several mornings this week, trainer Allen Jerkens had to alter the training schedule for Puzzlement and Bowman's Band, who will be uncoupled in the Donn. Puzzlement and Bowman's Band are the only Donn entrants stabled at Gulfstream Park.

Jerkens was finally able to work them Wednesday. Puzzlement breezed five furlongs in 1:04 with Jorge Chavez aboard, and Bowman's Band worked in 1:00.40.

"Naturally, it's a little inconvenient having to work the horses today," said Jerkens on Wednesday. "I'd hoped to work them both seven furlongs on either Monday or Tuesday. But they were able to either jog or gallop the last several days, and the main thing was to try not to kill them only four days out from the race, which is why I shortened their works to just five-eighths."

Puzzlement actually worked a little slower than Jerkens would have liked.

"Jorge didn't let him run until the quarter pole, and he was going faster after he finished the work," said Jerkens. "He didn't pull up until he got back around to the three-eighths pole."

Puzzlement and Bowman's Band finished first and second, a neck apart, in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap here Jan. 3.

Medaglia d'Oro, trained by Bobby Frankel, was scheduled to arrive at Gulfstream from Southern California on Wednesday.