06/02/2003 11:00PM

No horse shortage in Manhattan


ELMONT, N.Y. - An outstanding and perhaps an overfilled field is taking shape for Saturday's $400,000 Manhattan Handicap. Twelve will be permitted to run in the Grade 1 Manhattan, a 1 1/4-mile grass race. Entries were to be drawn on Wednesday.

Among the expected starters are the Bobby Frankel-trained Denon (122 pounds) and Requete (116). If the course is firm, Frankel, who won the Manhattan last year with Beat Hollow, also might run Blue Steller (115). Other probables are With Anticipation (122), Man From Wicklow (118), Honor in War (117), Shaanmer (116), Caesarion (115), Irish Colonial (114), Macaw (114), Patrol (114), and Tap the Admiral (114). Dr. Brendler (116) is likely if the course is soft.

On Tuesday, Dr. Brendler was entered in Saturday's $100,000 Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park.

Belmont's already wet grass course was expected to take more rain on Tuesday evening into Wednesday.

Irish Colonial, a New York-bred, wheels back on two weeks' rest after winning the restricted Kingston, at 1 1/8 miles, by four lengths here over a soft course on May 25. It was the second win in as many starts this year for Irish Colonial, who was ridden by Javier Castellano and is trained by Randy Schulhofer.

"This might be a little quick, but Javier didn't get into him in the Kingston and I believe the farther he goes, the better," Schulhofer said. "He is bred to go long."

Irish Colonial worked a half-mile in 48.47 seconds on Belmont's main track on Tuesday.

Also working on the main track was Tap the Admiral, who covered a half-mile in 48.64. On the training track, Patrol covered seven furlongs in 1:27.65. At Aqueduct, Man From Wicklow worked five furlongs in 1:02.15.

Weight persuades Frankel to wait

Frankel was all set to run Heat Haze in Saturday's $200,000 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap for older females on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Then he got a look at the weights for the one-mile turf race, which had Heat Haze assigned 119 pounds, the same as Riskaverse, Voodoo Dancer, and Wonder Again.

Riskaverse won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last year, and placed in another Grade 1 race. Voodoo Dancer is a Grade 1 winner who has finished in the money in eight straight graded stakes, including a second to champion Golden Apples in last October's Yellow Ribbon Stakes. Wonder Again won the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap last year.

Heat Haze, unbeaten in three starts in this country, owns a pair of victories against Grade 3 competition, most recently in the Citgo Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

Frankel was furious when he saw the weights Tuesday morning.

"That's ridiculous," Frankel said. "The other three are Group 1 winners. I'm not running. Enough with the weights here. If they do this to me, I'll just ship out of town."

Frankel said he might send Heat Haze out to Hollywood Park, where he has other top-class female turf runners, including Tates Creek.

Midas Eyes looks tough in Riva Ridge

Derby Trial winner Midas Eyes, who is also trained by Frankel, looks like a strong favorite for the $200,000 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Midas Eyes is expected to face a group that includes Battle Won, Bishop Court Hill, Halo Homewrecker, Midnight Charlie, More Heck, and Posse. A few others are also possible for the seven-furlong Riva Ridge, a Grade 2 stakes.

Mark Hennig, Halo Homewrecker's trainer, shoots for back-to-back wins in the Riva Ridge after winning the race last year with Gygistar.

In his last start at Aqueduct on May 3, Halo Homewrecker pressed the early pace and finished sixth as the favorite in the one-mile Withers. That race was preceded by a win in the seven-furlong Bay Shore, in which Halo Homewrecker stalked the early leaders.

Hennig has been trying to slow down his colt in his works because he believes Halo Homewrecker worked too fast for the Withers when he zipped a half-mile in 47 seconds eight days before the race. Last Saturday, Halo Homewrecker worked five furlongs in a pokey 1:04.91 over Belmont's main track.

"His fast work [before the Withers] might have contributed to him showing speed," Hennig said. "We want to save the horse for the race; have him go off easy and finish good."

Halo Homewrecker will be ridden for the first time by Gary Stevens in the Riva Ridge.

"I think he will fit him well," Hennig said.

Volponi sharp in Brooklyn drill

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi, with Jose Santos up, blitzed through a seven-furlong move in 1:24.02 Tuesday morning over Belmont's main track as he continues preparations for the Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap on June 14.

"He went a little slow the first part of it, but when he got to the half-mile pole he was right on schedule,'' co-owner and trainer Phil Johnson said. "Overall, it was a good work.''

The Brooklyn will be Volponi's second start of the year. He finished second, beaten a neck by Speightstown, in a seven-furlong allowance race on May 9. The recent spate of wet weather forced Johnson to alter his training plans somewhat, but he seems pleased with where the 5-year-old Volponi is at this stage.

"I planned on working him seven-eighths last week, but I had to alter my plans due to the weather,'' Johnson said. "If he comes back all right, we'll be fine for the Brooklyn. The Brooklyn is not the Breeders' Cup, you know.''

A total of 28 horses were nominated to the Brooklyn, including Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Evening Attire, who breezed five furlongs in 59.47 seconds on Tuesday. Evening Attire is not expected to run in the Brooklyn, however.

Harlan's Holiday and Saarland are the big names pointing to the Brooklyn.

Santos: Good horses work fast

Santos said he was not alarmed by the rapid workout turned in by Funny Cide Tuesday morning. Funny Cide drilled five furlongs in 57.82 seconds.

"I remember one time when I worked him as a 2-year-old we went a half-mile, and Barclay [Tagg] said, 'Be careful because he works fast,' " Santos said. "We went 46-and-two that day.''

Funny Cide went 3 for 3 as a 2-year-old, all against New York-bred competition.

"I always said good horses work fast,'' Santos said. "He has beautiful speed, and he's so fresh. I think he's working the same way he was working before the Preakness. Barclay knows what he's doing. He cooled out good and everybody's happy.''

Godolphin runners tune up

Several Godolphin Racing Inc.-owned horses put in workouts Tuesday as they prepare for upcoming races.

State City, winner of the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, drilled four furlongs in 46.03 seconds - the fastest of 69 at the distance - in his final move before Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 True North Breeders' Cup Handicap at six furlongs.

Unlike many other Godolphin runners, State City's training apparently hasn't been compromised by the wet weather in New York. Tuesday's workout was his sixth since May 3.

"We were able to get some works into him between the rain,'' said Tom Albertrani, the New York-based Godolphin assistant. "He's done well since he's been here.''

State City is the 121-pound highweight for the True North. Others expected to run in that race are Shake You Down, Giovannetti, Highway Prospector, Captain Red, Here's Zealous, Say Florida Sandy, Taste of Paradise, and Vodka.

Meanwhile, Imperial Gesture, who won last year's Grade 1 Gazelle and Grade 1 Beldame, worked six furlongs in 1:14.08. Albertrani said he is trying to make the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 21, but he's not sure she will be ready for that race. Imperial Gesture has not run since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Inamorato, who at one time was being considered for the Kentucky Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.64. He is being pointed to an allowance race on the weekend. Inamorato finished third in the UAE Derby in late March, and the decision was made not to press on to any of the spring classics.

"After he ran in Dubai, you could see he lost a lot of weight,'' Albertrani said. "If we would have went to the Derby it would have been a lot tougher on him. We thought we'd go a different route, see how he developed, and hopefully he turns out to be a nice 3-year-old.''

Albertrani hopes that Inamorato develops the way Essence of Dubai did a year ago. After running poorly in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, Essence of Dubai ended his 3-year-old season by winning the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Essence of Dubai breezed six furlongs 1:14.04. Plans for his next start are undetermined.

* Thursday's pick six will encompass races 3 through 8, rather than the last six races on the card. The change was made because the $100,000 Meadow Brook, a steeplechase race, will be run as the ninth and final race. Thursday's pick four has been changed to races 5 through 8.

* The traditional Belmont week visit by jockeys to the Ronald McDonald House is scheduled for Thursday. The Ronald McDonald House is a home for seriously ill children from around the world, who are receiving medical treatment at area hospitals, and their families.

Among the riders expected to visit with the children are Santos, Shaun Bridgmohan, Javier Castellano, Heberto Castillo Jr., Jorge Chavez, Pablo Fragoso, Aaron Gryder, Mike Luzzi, and Edgar Prado.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman