09/30/2001 11:00PM

Foul, counterfoul: Winner still Mutamam


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - After the interferers, the interferees, and the just plain also-rans were taken into account, the connections of just two of the 12 entrants in Sunday's Canadian International at Woodbine had genuine cause to celebrate.

One, of course, was Mutamam, the English invader who had a smooth trip after breaking from the outside post and gamely held off Paolini to record his 11th win from 20 career starts.

"When this horse is right, he really is genuine," said Alec Stewart, who trains Mutamam for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. "I think his statistics prove it; his win ratio is amazing."

The other was Lodge Hill, the Canadian candidate who was accorded little chance but who also avoided trouble and finishing fifth. He was promoted to third place after the stewards called their own inquiry and sorted through three separate claims of foul.

"He was in such good shape but still, when he runs so good you're pleasantly surprised anyway," said Phil England, who trains Lodge Hill.

The connections of Paolini, Zindabad, and Daliapour, who crossed the line second-through-fourth, were less sanguine.

Paolini, the German raider, broke poorly and spotted his rivals about five lengths. The slow beginning may have been a blessing in disguise as Paolini avoided the first-turn incident that was initiated by Daliapour, who eventually was disqualified and placed seventh.

In the meantime, Paolini's trainer Andreas Wohler had claimed foul against Mutamam and jockey Richard Hills, based on his belief that Hills had struck Paolini on the nose with his whip. As it happened, it was not a slip of the whip but Paolini's own animal instincts that caused the runner-up to jerk his head toward Mutamam in the closing yards.

"Right at the line, I felt the other horse come really close to me," said Hills. "You can clearly see on the camera that he tried to bite my horse."

Zindabad, under rider Kevin Darley, had drifted in during the final furlong and put the squeeze on Falcon Flight. Zindabad was disqualified and placed sixth while Falcon Flight, who had ended in a dead heat with Strut the Stage for sixth place, wound up with a share of fourth money.

"My horse got bounced off the rail," said Don Burke, who trains Falcon Flight for Gary Tanaka and also felt his horse had been compromised by the first-turn incident.

Daliapour, under jockey Johnny Murtagh, had shifted toward the inside and bumped with the locally based favorite Strut the Stage, leading to a claim of foul by jockey Todd Kabel.

"He lost all chance at the first turn," said Mark Frostad, who trains Strut the Stage for Sam-Son Farm. "It's fortunate he's athletic enough that he didn't fall down. Amazingly, he came out and he didn't have a scratch on him."

Mutamam considers B.C. Turf

Mutamam, who was headed back to England on Monday along with Daliapour and Zindabad, could return to North America for Belmont's Oct. 27 World Thoroughbred Championships Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he finished a close fourth last year.

"Obviously, the Breeders' Cup will be on our minds," said Stewart. "But he would have gone back home after this race even it was guaranteed he was going to the Breeders' Cup. I think when they stay out here, they tend to lose their form."

While there are no set plans for Daliapour he is an obvious candidate for the Dec. 16 Hong Kong Vase, a 1 1/2-mile race that he won last year at Sha Tin Racecourse. His owner, Robert Ng, is a Hong Kong resident and purchased Daliapour after his victory there last year.

Zindabad also is a hopeful for the Hong Kong Vase as well as the Japan Cup, a

1 1/2-mile race at Tokyo Race Course Nov. 25. Both races are by invitation only.

Paolini and Abitara, who finished seventh here in Sunday's E.P. Taylor Stakes, were to head back to Germany Tuesday. Paolini also is a possible Japan Cup candidate.

The BC Turf, Japan Cup, and Hong Kong Cup all are part of the World Series of Racing, of which the Canadian International was the sixth leg. Mutamam earned 12 points for his victory here to move into a tie for third place in the series, while trainer Andreas Wohler and jockey Andreas Suborics lead their respective lists thanks to Paolini's second-place finish.

*Those headed for less exotic destinations include Lodge Hill, who will be nominated to the Grade 3 Sky Classic here Oct. 28, and Falcon Flight, who is retreating to California for what Burke hopes will be a confidence-building assignment.

Strut the Stage, according to Frostad, will not run again this season.

*The Woodbine stewards handed three-day bans to both Murtagh and Darley for their International rides. The suspensions were to run this Thursday through Saturday but the ruling racing bodies in Europe are not bound to recognize them. The jockeys have the option of appealing but an agreement also could be worked out which would allow them to honor major engagements.

*Locals Quiet Resolve and Numerous Times, both candidates for the World Thoroughbred Championships Breeders' Cup Mile, worked at Woodbine last weekend. Quiet Resolve breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 on the training track turf course Sunday and is being shipped to Kentucky, where he will run in Sunday's Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile under jockey Robby Albarado. Numerous Times, winner of the Atto Mile while Quiet Resolve finished third, worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 on the main track Saturday and is slated to make his next start in the BC Mile.