07/15/2005 12:00AM

Scratches cut Richards to 5

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Sun King, trained by Nick Zito, will be fitted with blinkers for the first time in Sunday's Leonard Richards.

What shaped up as a showdown featuring a trio of 3-year-olds who last raced in the Preakness suddenly became a duet on Friday with word that the probable favorite for Sunday's Grade 3, $300,000 Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park will be scratched.

, runner-up to Afleet Alex in the second leg of racing's Triple Crown on May 21, was withdrawn from the race because of a minor injury detected during a gallop on Thursday.

According to trainer Robbie Bailes, rider Ramon Dominguez reported that Scrappy T didn't seem to be running comfortably.

"Ramon said he didn't feel right," Bailes said. "He's been fighting a hind-end problem. It's nothing major. But if he's not 100 percent, there's no sense in running him. I hope to have him back training in a week or two."

The defection of Scrappy T and Papi Chullo, who won a maiden race Friday at Belmont Park, leaves the 1 1/16-mile Richards with a five-horse field, led by Preakness also-rans Sun King and High Limit.

Trainer Nick Zito decided to fit Sun King with blinkers in an effort to wake him up after dull performances in the Kentucky Derby, where he was 15th, and the Preakness, where he finished a distant fourth.

, whose best efforts include a third in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, presumably was wearing the blinkers when he recently worked a bullet five furlongs over the training track at Saratoga in 1:02.40.

, fifth in the Preakness but only a length behind Sun King, took a liking to the Delaware track, where he won his maiden and a first-level allowance by a combined 18 1/2 lengths in the first two starts of his career. Coming back to his original home might help High Limit regain his form for the first time since he finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes in April.

The rest of the field consists of Golden Man, third behind Peter Pan winner Oratory in his stakes debut; Sort It Out, second in the Grade 2 Lexington at Keeneland and 17th in the Kentucky Derby; and Letterman's Humor, winner of a slowly run overnight stakes at Delaware last time out.

* Niclie, who had to beat only two horses to win last year's Light Hearted Handicap, is part of a much bigger field this time in the $100,000 six-furlong stakes for fillies and mares. The 10-horse field also includes Annika Lass, winner of the Sweet n Sassy at Delaware in May; High Peaks, who picks up Jerry Bailey after winning a restricted stakes at Aqueduct last time out; and Storm Minstrel, narrowly beaten in the $100,000 My Juliet at Philadelphia Park in her last start.

* Navesink River, a turf marathon specialist who won the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park in April, owns a distinct class advantage in the $55,000 Cape Henlopen for older horses going 1 1/2 miles on the grass.