10/19/2003 11:00PM

Fine-tuning on two coasts


ARCADIA, Calif. - With the richest race of their lives only days away, several of the contenders in Saturday's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic had workouts on Sunday and Monday, including a swift five-furlong drill of 57.80 seconds by Pleasantly Perfect here at Santa Anita on Monday.

Volponi, the defending champion in the Classic, and the 3-year-old Dynever both worked Monday at Belmont Park. At Hollywood Park, Medaglia d'Oro - who might be the favorite in the Classic - completed his serious training with an eye-catching work on Sunday. Congaree worked Sunday at Santa Anita, and both Evening Attire and Funny Cide worked Sunday at Belmont Park.

Pleasantly Perfect's work was his second swift drill since he returned from a seven-month layoff to win the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on Oct. 4. His five-furlong work in 58.60 seconds a week ago did not immediately enthuse his trainer, Richard Mandella, but Mandella was much more sanguine after Monday's faster work, which equaled the best time of 37 at the distance. Exercise rider Crystal Brown was up.

"When they go that fast and you're not making it happen, it's probably pretty good," Mandella said. "I wanted a nice work. I wanted him to have an easy five last week, and a better five this week. He's never worked like this. He's in pretty good shape, I'd say."

Volponi had jockey Jose Santos up for a three-furlong work in 35.03 seconds on the Belmont training track. They teamed with trainer Phil Johnson to win last year's Classic at 43-1. Volponi is winless in seven starts this year.

Dynever worked an easy half-mile in 49.33 seconds with exercise rider Christophe Lorieul. He most recently ran second in the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup, his first start against older horses. Dynever's trainer, Christophe Clement, also worked the mare Voodoo Dancer, who is running in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Working in company, Medaglia d'Oro finished well to complete six furlongs in 1:12.20 with exercise rider Marco Ramirez. "I just wanted to make sure he had some competition," said trainer Bobby Frankel. "He hasn't been out in a couple of months."

Congaree, who has been battling a quarter crack in a rear hoof, was said by trainer Bob Baffert to be in good shape on Monday, one day after working six furlongs in 1:11.20.

"The foot looks good," Baffert said.

Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 on the Belmont training track Sunday with Robin Smullen, his exercise rider and assistant trainer.

Evening Attire also worked Sunday on the Belmont training track, and was timed in 1:00.80 for five furlongs.

Of the 14 horses pre-entered last week in the Breeders' Cup Classic, no more than 11 are expected to be entered in the race on Wednesday. Azeri is bypassing the Breeders' Cup, Peace Rules is expected to be entered in the Mile, and Toccet is expected to go in the Turf.

The field will be Congaree (Pat Valenzuela the rider), Dynever (Corey Nakatani), Evening Attire (John Velazquez), Funny Cide (Julie Krone), Hold That Tiger (Edgar Prado), Medaglia d'Oro (Jerry Bailey), Perfect Drift (Gary Stevens), Pleasantly Perfect (Alex Solis), Ten Most Wanted (Pat Day), Volponi (Santos), and possibly the European runner Falbrav (Darryll Holland), who will go either here or in the Turf.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson