08/30/2002 11:00PM

Few to face Lido Palace in Woodward

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Next Saturday's Grade 1 Woodward Stakes offers a $500,000 purse and is one of the most prestigious races in the country. But only defending champion Lido Palace and either Godolphin's E Dubai or Express Tour were confirmed starters as of Saturday.

E Dubai's status remains questionable because of a bruised foot that has forced him to miss training since his three-quarters of a length victory over Lido Palace in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 6 at Belmont.

"That's fine by me; I hope I'm the only one in the race," quipped Bobby Frankel, who trains Lido Palace for John Amerman's American Racing Stable. "I'm not proud."

Lido Palace is searching for his first victory since defeating Albert the Great and Tiznow to win the 2001 Woodward. He has started only three times this year, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita, second in the Suburban, and third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Left Bank, in the Grade 1 Whitney here Aug. 3.

"He's doing really well and I think he's going to have a good fall," Frankel said on Saturday. "He might just earn his way into the Breeders' Cup."

Lido Palace would have to be supplemented for $800,000 to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Frankel also said he was bringing Milwaukee Brew back East to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 28. Milwaukee Brew ran third in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar Aug. 25.

"The racetracks on the East Coast are more suitable to his style," said Frankel. "The stretch at Del Mar is only about three-sixteenths of a mile long and it's really hard to make up ground, especially when you're trying to make a move around 12 horses."

Belmont stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes said five others are possible Woodward starters: Baseball Champion, Snake Mountain, Tempest Fugit, Dollar Bill, and Gander.

Plenty for Man o' War, Gazelle

While the Woodward will have a short field, that will not be the case with the other two Grade 1 races on Saturday's Belmont card, the $500,000 Man o' War and $250,000 Gazelle.

With Anticipation heads the prospective lineup for the 11-furlong Man o' War, with his competition likely to include Blazing Fury, Craigsteel, Man From Wicklow, Paolini, Tobougg, Lord Flasheart, Regal Dynasty, and perhaps the Frankel-trained Skipping. Whitmore's Conn and Falcon Flight are possible starters.

The Gazelle will feature the return of Take Charge Lady, as well as Bella Bellucci, Imperial Gesture, Jaramar Rain, Lost at Sea, Magic Storm, and Nonsuch Bay.

Man From Wicklow tuned up for the Man o' War here Saturday morning, working an easy five furlongs in 1:03.40.

Man From Wicklow earned his way into the Man o' War after finishing fourth, beaten two lengths by With Anticipation and Denon, despite an eventful trip in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Handicap.

"The Sword Dancer was definitely his career best," trainer Rick Violette said. "He kind of stepped up to the next level with that effort. Right now I'm not thinking about the Breeders' Cup. I'd just like to knock off one of the big ones with him."

Nonsuch Bay and Jaramar Rain each drilled five furlongs Saturday in 1:00.40 in their final prep for the Gazelle.

Frizette next for Midnight Cry

Trainer Ken McPeek said he was delighted with Midnight Cry's third-place finish behind the undefeated Awesome Humor in Friday's Grade 1 Spinaway.

"I was really pleased with her effort, especially the way she finished," said McPeek. "Right now I plan to sit on her until the Frizette [Oct. 5 at Belmont]. An extra quarter-mile should help her a lot. She's got a lot of distance pedigree."

Meanwhile, trainer Patrick Biancone took Stellar's fourth-place finish in the Spinaway in stride.

"She just couldn't grab that track," said Biancone. "She was running like she was drunk through the stretch. But don't forget she's still just a baby."

The racetrack was upgraded from muddy to good after being harrowed just prior to the Spinaway.