02/27/2003 1:00AM

Melnyk runs trio in Cup


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - Thady Quill, a stakes winner for the Bobby Frankel barn, headlines a deep and talented field in the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup at the Garrison Savannah Racetrack near here on Saturday.

While Frankel has turned over the training of Thady Quill to champion Barbadian trainer Bill Marshall, there will be prominent North American horses and horsemen here on race day.

Trainers Todd Pletcher and Mark Casse will start horses for owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk, and nine Canadian-based Barbadian jockeys will have mounts for the $110,000 race.

Fourteen horses were entered for the 22nd running of the Gold Cup but only 12 can start on the tight, six-furlong turf course. The 1 1/8-mile race, which is run clockwise - the opposite of North American racing - will be broadcast live on Television Games Network. Betting on the race in the U.S. and Canada is available through Turf Paradise in Phoenix., which will serve as the simulcast hub. Post time is 4:40 p.m. EST.

Thady Quill, who finished a close fourth in the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap on Feb. 1 in his last start, arrived in Barbados on Feb. 18. He races for owner Gay Smith.

"It might be a little far for him but maybe the competition will be helpful," said Frankel. "He's been unlucky in his career."

Woodbine-based Jono Jones, who has won the last three editions of the Gold Cup, all on the Marshall-trained Blast of Storm, will ride Thady Quill.

Eugene Melnyk, the Canadian-born pharmaceutical magnate who resides in Barbados, is taking his third shot at his first Gold Cup victory.

His threesome includes Warleigh, a 5-year-old son of Lord at War who was second in the race last year. Warleigh was fourth in a Gulfstream allowance race on Feb. 1, his first start since last year's Gold Cup.

"I thought it was a good effort because we were behind schedule a bit," said Pletcher, who trains Warleigh. "The idea was that we thought he might need it for a conditioning standpoint, and [we] hope he can move forward for the Barbados race." Chris Griffith, a leading jockey at Fort Erie, will ride.

Another Melnyk-owned, Pletcher-trained entrant is Zoning, a stakes-placed 6-year-old who was purchased from Shadwell Stables last fall. Slade Callaghan, who rides mainly at Woodbine, gets the call.

Melnyk also is running Waltzin' Storm, who recently was bought from Harry Mangurian and is trained by Casse, Canada's leading trainer last year.

Waltzin' Storm, who is stakes placed, was a troubled third in his 2003 debut on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream in a 1 1/16-mile turf race.

"As long as he can handle the elements, I think he's the most talented horse in the race, perhaps with the exception of Thady Quill," Casse said.

Pat Husbands, Canada's outstanding jockey for the last four years, will ride Waltzin' Storm.