04/22/2003 11:00PM

Monteleone glad to have Ladies Din

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Frank Monteleone admits he's feeling a little pressure.

He is the new trainer for Ladies Din, who will start in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile on turf at Bay Meadows. It will be Ladies Din's first start since a spectacular victory in last May's Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Handicap, his last race for trainer Julio Canani.

Ladies Din is the likely favorite in what may be a small field. Locally based Ninebanks and I'madrifter both return following Grade 3 victories, and Surprise Halo and Wolfwithintegrity are also slated to run. Trainer Ron McAnally has said he will run Nicobar, Gondolieri, or National Anthem. War Zone, who was expected to run, had a cough early this week so trainer Bobby Frankel decided to pass the race.

Ladies Din was sent to a farm following the Shoemaker. Monteleone said owners J. Terrance Lanni and Bernard Schiappa contacted him and asked him if he wanted to train Ladies Din, and Monteleone accepted.

"I'm honored they trusted me enough to have their prized possession in my care," Monteleone said. "But every time I take him to the track, my heart is in my mouth."

Monteleone will send the 8-year-old Ladies Din north, although he may scratch him if rain severely affects the turf course.

"His talent speaks for itself," Monteleone said. "I went easy with him and started him from scratch. The owners said if there was any sign he wasn't doing well to stop and they'd give him a home for life."

Ladies Din has trained well, and Monteleone has been looking for a place to run him to prepare Ladies Din for a defense of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, to be run at Hollywood May 26.

"I know I have the best horse," Monteleone said. "We've got to start somewhere, and he's training well."

Small Friday fields

Only 49 horses were entered for the eight races on the first Friday night card of the meet.

Six older fillies and mares will compete in the evening's feature race, a six-furlong starter allowance. Kiznitti has a win and a second in her past two starts and could be the one to beat.

First post is 7:20 p.m. with $1 grandstand admission for anyone with a valid student identification. Also offered are $1 hot dogs and sodas and $2 beers.

- Jockey Frank Alvarado begins a five-day suspension Friday night. He received the suspension last Friday when his mount, Jive at Five, was disqualified from first to second on a day when Alvarado originally was to be serving a three-day suspension. Alvarado was riding after appealing that decision.