09/09/2001 11:00PM

Lido Palace rises to the top


ELMONT, N.Y. - It's been visible.

The steady improvement of Lido Palace has been there for all of us to, see. His Suburban, in which he finished second to Albert the Great, was a pretty good effort, his Whitney at Saratoga, in which he beat Albert the Great with a nine-pound advantage in the weights, represented progress.

There was more progress Saturday in the $500,000 Woodward. Under the weight-for-age provisions, all five starters carried 126 pounds, and Lido Palace, who beat Albert the Great by a length, with Tiznow another half-length back, was the best horse. He had to be best to win, because Albert the Great ran a big race on his favorite track. So did Tiznow, who needed a race after a long period of inactivity.

A winner of four Group 1 races in his native Chile, Lido Palace was at his career best in the Woodward and received brilliant support from Jerry Bailey. Aware that Albert the Great doesn't like horses racing outside of him, Bailey was careful to come after the pacesetter from the outside in his stretch challenge and prevailed in a drive.

Bobby Frankel, who saddled the winners of six graded stakes at Saratoga, has a number of top prospects for the Belmont fall meeting as well. Whether Lido Palace will make another appearance here remains to be seen. He may be sent to Tokyo for the rich Japan Cup, while Aptitude carries the stable banner in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Tiznow and Albert the Great are expected for the Classic, and overseas sources indicate both Fantastic Light and Galileo, those superb duelists in the Irish Champion Stakes Saturday, are also headed for Belmont Park.

Lido Palace wasn't the only horse to give a virtuoso performance here last weekend. With Anticipation, who looked so good last month at Saratoga in winning the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, appeared to better that effort in the Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War.

Leading all the way under deft handling by Pat Day, With Anticipation finished more than two lengths clear of the Arlington Million winner, Silvano. The world-class filly, Ela Athena, who maintains her form wherever she races, was third.

Hall of Fame horseman Jonathan Sheppard will train With Anticipation at his yard in West Chester, Pa., over the next several weeks in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Turf. A 6-year-old gelding by Relaunch out of Kentucky Oaks winner Fran's Valentine, With Anticipation has assets of speed and stamina that make him a dangerous competitor at the highest levels.

Belmont Park offered an extraordinary day of racing Saturday, and one of the most enjoyable features was the Grade 1, $250,000 Gazelle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, won by Exogenous. After knocking on the door - she finished second in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama - Exogenous came from well off the pace like her sire, Unbridled, to score by a decisive 3 1/2 lengths.

Two Item Limit, the Black-Eyed Susan winner, was second, edging the Mother Goose winner, Fleet Renee. Fleet Renee, sidelined for two months, needed a race, but Exogenous appears to be moving forward at the right time.