09/03/2001 11:00PM

Preseli's comeback pushed back


New Jersey racing fans will miss a chance to see a two-time former European champion in her comeback race at The Meadowlands after trainer Michael Dickinson scratched Preseli from the Thursday night feature.

A competitive field of seven is still scheduled to go to post in the one-mile turf allowance, but the defection of Preseli robs the $50,000 race of some of its intrigue, especially considering Dickinson's plan to enter the 4-year-old filly in some of the fall's best races.

Preseli, the 1999 champion juvenile in Ireland and the highweight in Ireland at 4 from 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 furlongs, worked Tuesday morning at Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland and "came up with a little mucus" in her lungs, Dickinson said. But despite the setback, Dickinson said he still has big plans for the filly.

"I'm looking right now at two races at the end of the month," he said. "The Flower Bowl and the E.P. Taylor." Both races are Grade 1 races on the turf, the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park in New York on Sept. 29, and the E. P. Taylor at Woodbine Racecourse in Etobicoke, Ontario, on Sept. 30.

Preseli went into last year's Irish 1000 Guineas undefeated in four lifetime starts, but she faltered in that race, finishing 12th in a field of 13. Despite seemingly regaining her form in her next start, finishing second in the Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes, she again finished up the track in the July 16 Irish Oaks, and was sent to Dickinson in Maryland. The Meadowlands allowance would have been her first start since the Oaks.

Even without Preseli, The Meadowlands race still has a foreign presence in Radiant, an Indian-bred, Group 2 winner in her native country who has spent the past six months racing in California. She has posted some nice speed figures, but hasn't won in five starts since leaving India last year, and one mile could be a stretch for her.

With a paucity of early speed, Maddy's a Winner could get an easy early trip. Last year in October at The Meadowlands, Maddy's a Winner set an easy pace in the 1 1/16-mile Montclair State College Stakes en route to a two-length win.

Minkie, a 4-year-old filly, comes into the race after posting three consecutive in-the-money finishes, including a second and a third in two turf stakes. But she will need a good pace up front to hit her best stride.

Front-runners may get tested by Siberian Mirage, a veteran turf miler who likes to stay close to the pace. Siberian Mirage comes into the race after two tough beats in $75,000 claiming races at Belmont and Saratoga.

* The Meadowlands started off its 2001 meet on Monday with its highest opening-day attendance in eight years and extremely strong wagering numbers. The Labor Day crowd was 16,060, with total handle of $3.6 million, up 50 percent compared to last year.

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