06/03/2003 11:00PM

Manhattan heavies continue comebacks


ELMONT, N.Y. - Four quality graded stakes will be run as a prelude to the 135th Belmont Stakes

Denon and With Anticipation are the highweights at 122 pounds for the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf Saturday.

The Manhattan drew a field of 11 Wednesday.

The race also attracted the first three finishers in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Handicap May 3 at Churchill Downs. In that race, longshot Honor in War held off the Bobby Frankel-trained Requete. Frontrunner Patrol held on to finish third.

With Anticipation was also in the Woodford, but he finished fifth as the favorite in his first start of the year following a six-month layoff. In his previous start, With Anticipation finished second in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park.

Denon, who is also trained by Frankel, is coming into the Manhattan Handicap following a second in the $400,000 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park. The 1 1U2-mile Jim Murray was his first start since last year's Breeders' Cup Turf.

Also entered were Caesarion, Shaanmer, Dr. Brendler, Gritty Sandie, Irish Colonial, and Macaw.

Heavy rains pounded the Belmont turf course Wednesday, but the weather was forecast to dry up later in the day and throughout the rest of the week.

If the race is moved to the main track, Evening Attire, winner last year of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, would draw in and be assigned highweight of 124 pounds. Evening Attire would be making his first start of the year.

Also entered for main-track only were State Shinto, Judge's Case, and Short Hair.

Midas Eyes one to catch

Midas Eyes, who won a Grade 3 stakes in each of his last two starts, will have to use his early speed to fend off the late run of Posse in the Grade 2, $200,000 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes on the Belmont undercard Saturday.

The seven-furlong race drew a field of eight, and the two most accomplished horses are Midas Eyes and Posse. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Midas Eyes won his last two starts by running quickly to the lead and not letting anyone make up ground.

Posse, who is trained by Steve Asmussen, has come from well back to win three of his last four starts, at distances ranging from five to seven furlongs. But the last time he squared off with Midas Eyes, in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes, Posse could not make up any ground in the stretch and finished second, beaten nine lengths.

Also entered were Battle Won, Bishop Court, Midnight Charlie, Epic, Alysweep, and Halo Homewrecker.

Rivals meet again in Just a Game

One of the strongest betting races on the Belmont undercard is the Grade 3 Just a Game Handicap at one mile on turf. The race drew a well-matched field of 12 horses.

Two accomplished 4-year-old fillies who clashed throughout the fall last year - Wonder Again and Riskaverse - will likely vie for favoritism, and they will be challenged by an entry from trainer Christophe Clement, who will saddle Voodoo Dancer and Mariensky.

Trained by James Toner, Wonder Again won the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap last year at Belmont, beating Riskaverse for the second time in a row. But in the Queen Elizabeth II Handicap at Keeneland, Riskaverse turned the tables, with Wonder Again finishing fifth.

Voodoo Dancer excelled in turf races last year on the West Coast, and in her first race following a winter layoff, the Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct, she finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Wonder Again.

Rounding out the field are Love N' Kiss S., Repository, Carib Lady, Cozzy Corner, Silver Rail, Delta Princess, Lady of the Future, and Quick Blue.

Entered for main-track only are Smok'n Frolic, Raging Fever, and Vespers.

State City makes U.S. debut

The six-furlong, Grade 2 True North Breeders' Cup Handicap drew two peaking speedballs who will be challenged by a Dubai-based horse who has never started in the United States.

The Dubai horse, State City, won the Group 1, six-furlong Golden Shaheen Stakes at Nad Al Sheba in his last start. He will be ridden by Jerry Bailey in the $250,000 True North, which drew a field of seven Wednesday.

Two horses expected to go straight to the lead are Pioneer Boy and Shake You Down. Pioneer Boy, who is trained by John Robb for owner Mike Gill, last won the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico May 17 by 1 1U2 lengths while on the lead from nearly the start to the finish.

Shake You Down has rattled off three consecutive wins since being claimed by trainer Scott Lake. Shake You Down has twice posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 118, the highest of the year at any distance up to one mile. Giovanetti, Here's Zealous, Highway Prospector, and Vodka round out the field.