05/23/2003 11:00PM

Ladies Din tries Shoemaker one more time


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It would hardly seem like a proper Memorial Day at Hollywood Park without an appearance by Ladies Din in the $350,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile.

The runner-up in 1999 and 2000 to stablemate Silic, Ladies Din won the Grade 1 turf race last year after missing the 2001 running. Monday, the 8-year-old Ladies Din is a top contender in the Shoemaker. He tries to give owners Terry Lanni and Bernie Schiappa - who also owned Silic - their fourth Shoemaker win since 1999.

The Shoemaker is the eighth race on a program that includes the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares on turf and the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters. The program features a $1 million-guaranteed pick six.

About the only thing different about Ladies Din in 2003 is his trainer. Last winter, he was transferred to Frank Monteleone, having previously been trained by Julio Canani.

Monday's race will be Ladies Din's second start since the 2002 Shoemaker. An ankle injury put him on the sidelines last summer.

A gelding, Ladies Din finished fourth in the San Francisco Mile last month at Bay Meadows, and has worked well in recent weeks. The lingering question is whether age is catching up with the millionaire, or whether he can fight off challengers such as Redattore, Special Ring, and War Zone.

In his comeback at Bay Meadows, Ladies Din rallied wide and lost by two lengths on a soft turf course.

"I think if the real Ladies Din shows up, I'm definitely the horse to beat," Monteleone said. "At San Francisco, the soft going and 11 months off took its toll."

Ladies Din, a closer, will be chasing expected pacesetter Redattore, the winner of the Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March. Richard Mandella trains Redattore. He also starts Medecis, a stakes winner in France last year, who is winless in two starts in the United States.

"The way they're training, I can't tell which one is better," Mandella said.

Other top contenders are Special Ring, the winner of the Wickerr Handicap last August; Nicobar, second in the San Francisco Mile; and War Zone, who won his U.S. debut in March at Santa Anita. Special Ring could give Canani a fourth win in the Shoemaker.

They all must hold off a late run from Ladies Din, who worked five furlongs in 58.20 seconds under jockey Patrick Valenzuela at Santa Anita last Tuesday.

"Pat never let him run a jump," Monteleone said. "We're ready, that's what Pat said."