11/05/2004 12:00AM

Gateman trying Premio Roma


Gateman, heartbreakingly close in his last four tries at the group race level, travels to Italy Sunday in search of an elusive Group 1 victory in the $370,000 Premio Roma at the Capannelle.

Trained in England by Mark Johnston, the 7-year-old Gateman was unlucky not to win the Group 2 Prix Dollar at Longchamp on Oct. 2, when he was beaten a neck by Touch of Land. Gateman is adept on both good and soft ground and can stay the Roma's 1 1/4 miles.

Beating the defending Roma winner, Imperial Dancer (0 for 12 since then), should not be a problem, but last year's runner-up, Altieri, is a more serious threat.

Altieri completed a hat trick at 1 1/4 miles when he won the Group 1 Premio Presidente della Repubblica over the Roma course and distance on May 16. Rested since finishing fourth on June 20 in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano, he should run well fresh.

The dark horse is German invader Soldier Hollow. He has won a Group 2 and two Group 3's in his last three starts, all at the Roma distance.