09/20/2002 12:00AM

Maddie May sitting pretty


ELMONT, N.Y. - Maddie May, second to Imperial Gesture in a Saratoga allowance race last month, was flattered when Imperial Gesture came back and won the Grade 1 Gazelle in an impressive performance.

Luckily for Maddie May, she won't find the likes of Imperial Gesture when she runs as the favorite in Sunday's $75,000-added Schenectady Handicap at Belmont Park.

The six-furlong Schenectady is for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Maddie May, the 120-pound highweight of the seven-horse field, was beaten six lengths by Imperial Gesture in the open allowance race, which was Maddie May's first start in three months.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Maddie May for So Madcapt Stable, said the 5-year-old looks strong for Sunday's race.

"It certainly makes [Maddie May] look better after Imperial Gesture came back and won the Gazelle," Pletcher said. "My horse came out of the race well and has been training super."

Last year, Maddie May finished second in the Schenectady.

John Velazquez rides Maddie May, who drew the outside post.

There is a fair amount of speed in the Schenectady, which should set things up nicely for Maddie May, who can sit a stalking trip.

One of the front-runners, Home on the Hill finds a softer spot after running against tougher foes and figures to be in the mix, if she can withstand a pace duel.

Jolie, a 3-year-old who gets in light at 112 pounds, makes her stakes debut after three wins this year. In her last start, Jolie finished fourth in an open-company race in the slop. Her trainer, Mark Hennig, said the filly wouldn't run if the track is muddy.

"I don't think she gets the same footing in the mud," Hennig said. "Take out her mud races and she's okay. She's quick away from the gate on a fast track."

Showers are in the forecast for Sunday, which would suit Shawklit Mint, who is 2 for 2 over sloppy tracks.

Natalina, 4 for 6 this year, ships in from Canada after an easy win in a first-level allowance.

We'll Sea Ya and Belongs to Mony complete the field.

Delta Form can earn Japan Cup trip

The connections of Del Mar Handicap winner Delta Form are hoping to get a line on him when he runs in the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational next Sunday.

If Delta Form, who is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, proves to be competitive against Grade 1 company in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Classic, the $3.9 million Japan Cup, an invitational race at Nakayama Racecourse on Nov. 24, could be in his future plans.

"The Turf Classic will give us an indication if we are barking up the right tree," said Barry Irwin, the president of Team Valor Stable, which owns Delta Form with Gary Barber.

Delta Form, a 6-year-old Australian-bred gelding, was an upset winner of the Del Mar Handicap on Sept. 1. It was Delta Form's sixth race in this country after Team Valor and Barber bought him and brought him here from South Africa, where he won the prestigious Summer Handicap in November 2000.

Upon arriving in this country, Delta Form went through a grueling period in quarantine and then, after winning his second start in October 2001 at Santa Anita, developed pneumonia and nearly died.

Delta Form, who is trained by Jenine Sahadi, returned to the races in July and in his third start won the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile race, by a neck.

"We don't know how good he is," Irwin said. "When he won his last race, it was the first time this year he has been fit. We're looking forward to finding out what we've got."

Delta Form will ship here from California late in the week.

Others pointing to the Turf Classic, a weight-for-age race, are With Anticipation, Denon, Blazing Fury, Kim Loves Bucky, Man From Wicklow, and Ulundi. An alternate list of invitees will be released on Sunday.

This Guns for Hire to go in Pegasus

This Guns for Hire, a winner of back-to-back races at Saratoga, will make his stakes debut on Friday in the $350,000 Pegasus at The Meadowlands. The Grade 2 Pegasus is a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds.

In his two-turn debut, This Guns for Hire won a maiden race by 2 3/4 lengths on Aug. 1 after losing his first six races. A Norquestor colt trained by John Terranova, he returned 27 days later and won a first-level allowance by two lengths.

"He's a big, heavy horse, and he took awhile to get himself together," Terranova said. "The Pegasus looked like a perfect spot once he won that allowance race right back. I think he is a pretty nice horse."

If he runs, Pennsylvania Derby winner Harlan's Holiday would be the horse to beat in the Pegasus. As of Friday, Harlan's Holiday's trainer, Todd Pletcher, hadn't decided if he will run in the Pegasus or the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup the following day at Belmont.

Two work for Frankel

Starine worked Friday at Belmont in preparation for Saturday's $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational.

Starine, with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle, covered six furlongs in 1:15.03 on the main track. The clockers timed the Grade 1 winner in 51 seconds for the first half-mile.

"I was a little encouraged she relaxed so well the first part of it," said trainer Bobby Frankel. "She came home in 24."

Starine hasn't run since finishing second in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 27.

Frankel also worked Medaglia d'Oro, who will run next in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington on Oct. 26. Medaglia d'Oro worked five furlongs in 1:01.41.

* Frankel looks like he has a monster on his hands in Sightseek, a half-sister to Tates Creek, who rolled home a 12-length winner in a first-level allowance race on Friday.

* On Saturday, jockey Robbie Davis began serving a 10-day suspension for careless riding during a race at Aqueduct in March.