07/19/2001 11:00PM

'Pleasure' won't be missed by rivals


STANTON, Del. - It hurts, but thousands of fans at Delaware Park still will revel in the track's annual highlight Sunday, despite the scratch of Beautiful Pleasure from the 64th running of the $600,000 Delaware Handicap.

Beautiful Pleasure, one of eight entered in the Grade 3 Del Cap, was scratched Friday by trainer John T. Ward Jr., who said he preferred to wait for the Go for Wand Stakes at Saratoga next weekend. Nevertheless, an ontrack crowd approaching 20,000 is expected to turn out for the biggest day of Delaware's 140-day meet, with one element remaining constant: The men and women with horses in the race badly want to win it.

"Any time a quality horse like Beautiful Pleasure comes out, it makes it a little easier," said John Dolan, owner and trainer of Lazy Slusan, the 121-pound highweight.

Lazy Slusan, a California-bred enjoying easily her most productive year, will spot four to 10 pounds to the six other fillies and mares in the Del Cap, which is carded as the eighth of 11 Sunday races, with a post time of 4:20 p.m.

Dolan said he was unpleasantly surprised that Lazy Slusan was asked to carry so much weight, "especially at a mile and a quarter." Yet he is cautiously optimistic that Lazy Slusan will be competitive "because she's been so consistent all year."

Meanwhile, John Servis, trainer of Jostle, is highly confident that Jostle will take plenty of beating under Jerry Bailey.

"The distance definitely helps her," said Servis. "If you look at her two biggest races last year [wins in the Coaching Club Oaks and Alabama Stakes], they were at 1 1/2 and 1 1/4 miles."

Several others rate as fringe contenders, including Lady Melesi, an improving 4-year-old who chased Lazy Slusan in the Milady Breeders' Cup last month; Under the Rug, who carries the famed yellow-and-purple silks of Christiana Stable; and Humble Clerk, a Kentucky invader coming off a sharp prep victory.

"We're rolling the dice a bit," said Humble Clerk's trainer, Niall O'Callaghan, who was scheduled to fly in from Chicago Sunday morning after saddling Guided Tour in Saturday's Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park. "But we're thinking there's a good shot she might really like the mile and a quarter."

The rest of the field consists of Kris Pit and Irving's Baby.