05/15/2002 12:00AM

Gander fails in allowance


ELMONT, N.Y. - Gander, the 2000 New York-bred Horse of the Year, finished a well-beaten third as the 1-2 favorite in a classified allowance at Belmont Park on Wednesday. It was Gander's fifth consecutive loss since winning the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in September.

El Gran Papa, under Jerry Bailey, survived a late stretch battle with the late-closing Griffinite to win the 1 1/8-mile race by a nose. Gander, who set the pace from well off the rail while under pressure, tired and finished 9 1/4 lengths behind Griffinite.

Bobby Frankel, who was in California and not on hand for the win, trains El Gran Papa ($15.60), who won his first dirt race. The final time was 1:50.69 over a fast track.

In the eighth race, This Fleet Is Due, the 4-5 favorite, was an easy winner over six rivals in a third-level allowance, an effort that could propel him to the Brooklyn Handicap on June 15.