09/02/2002 11:00PM

Godolphin comes out full guns blazing


ELMONT, N.Y. - Godolphin Racing, which on Tuesday announced the retirement of Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry because of an injury, will be looking for happier times this weekend at Belmont Park.

Godolphin will be represented with starters in each of the three Grade 1 races to be run on Saturday, opening weekend of the Belmont fall meet. In the $500,000 Woodward, Godolphin will start Express Tour. Imperial Gesture is Godolphin's starter for the $250,000 Gazelle, and Tobougg will run in the $500,000 Man o' War.

Godolphin assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said E Dubai was intended to start in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward, but has been slow to recover from a foot bruise and won't make the race.

E Dubai hasn't raced since winning the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 6.

Albertrani, who oversees Godolphin's New York division for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said that in Street Cry's absence E Dubai will be pointed to the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park.

Express Tour, who ran the best race of his career at Belmont last year winning the Grade 2 Jerome, has lost two races in as many starts this year. In his last race, the 4-year-old finished sixth in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park on July 27.

"He broke slowly and from the outside [post] and forced the pace down the backside," Albertrani said. "They went a quick second quarter and he was a bit used up. He likes the track here and the one turn. We're just hoping to see him produce the same race he did in the Jerome."

As of Tuesday morning, Albertrani said he had not confirmed the rider assignment for Express Tour but believed John Velazquez would have the mount. Velazquez is scheduled to replace Jerry Bailey, who is serving a riding suspension, aboard Imperial Gesture in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies.

Imperial Gesture is coming off an impressive win in an allowance race against older at Saratoga on Aug. 23. The seven-furlong race, which Imperial Gesture won by six lengths, was her first start since finishing eighth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

Godolphin has always had high hopes for Imperial Gesture, who finished second behind her stablemate Tempera in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Earlier this year in Dubai, Imperial Gesture won two stakes, including the UAE Oaks, where she beat Tempera.

"She lost a lot of weight after the Kentucky Oaks and we just gave her plenty of time to recover from the trip to Kentucky," Albertrani said. "We put her in an easy spot to get some confidence in her. She deserves another chance with these kind of fillies."

Tobougg, a Group 1 winner as a 2-year-old in France and England in 2000, will make his American debut in the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War, a weight-for-age grass race.

* As of Tuesday, Lido Palace, the defending Woodward champion, and Express Tour were the only definites for the Woodward. According to Andrew Byrnes, the stakes coordinator for the New York Racing Association, several horses are listed as possible to start, including Gander, Dollar Bill, Baseball Champion, and Bowman's Band.

Take Charge Lady will take 121 in Gazelle

Take Charge Lady, one of the leading 3-year-old fillies in the country, was assigned 121 pounds as the Gazelle highweight.

Take Charge Lady, who hasn't raced since May, has won four stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Ashland and the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. In her only defeat this year, Take Charge Lady finished second in the Kentucky Oaks behind Farda Amiga, who returned to win the Alabama last month. After Take Charge Lady won the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill on May 25, she was given a break from racing because she was dehydrated, said her trainer, Ken McPeek.

In her only start at Belmont, Take Charge Lady finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October.

McPeek said he thinks the reason his filly ran poorly in the Breeders' Cup might have been because there was a virus brewing inside of her, rather than a dislike for the Belmont surface.

"We've got to put her back [at Belmont] to find out," McPeek said during a national teleconference call on Tuesday. "She's doing quite well."

Take Charge Lady was expected to arrive at Belmont from Saratoga on Wednesday. Other probables for the Gazelle are Bella Bellucci, Jaramar Rain, Lost at Sea, Magic Storm, and Nonsuch Bay.

Say Florida Sandy in opening-day feature

Say Florida Sandy shoots for his third win in the $75,000-added General Douglas MacArthur Handicap on Friday, opening day of the Belmont meeting.

Owner John Rotella confirmed Tuesday that the 8-year-old Say Florida Sandy would start in the MacArthur. The highweight, Say Florida Sandy was assigned 125 pounds for the seven-furlong race for New York-breds.

In his last start in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on Aug. 11, Say Florida Sandy finished second behind Orientate, who may be the best sprinter in the country following his win in Sunday's Forego.

Among those expected to face Say Florida Sandy, who won the MacArthur in 1998 and 2000, are Impeachthepro, Private Enterprise, and Stalwart Member.