09/06/2001 12:00AM

Silvano shoots for Grade 1 double


ELMONT, N.Y. - If you add together the frequent-flyer miles accrued by the eight runners in Saturday's $500,000 Man o' War at Belmont Park, the number would be staggering.

The field has made starts in Canada, Dubai, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and the United States.

The Grade 1 Man o' War, a weight-for-age race, will be run at 1 3/8 miles on the Widener turf.

Silvano, the German-bred who scored a three-length victory in the Grade 1 Arlington Million last month over a strong group of American runners on a yielding course, was made the 9-5 favorite by Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, Mike Watchmaker.

Silvano's German-based trainer, Andreas Wohler, said the ease of his 5-year-old's win in the Million caught him by surprise.

"I would have been happy he if was third or fourth," said Wohler, who admits to being amazed at the improvement Silvano has shown in the last year. "The way he ran was very surprising. It rained and he handled the ground okay, and maybe some of the Americans didn't."

Having said that, Wohler believes Silvano, who won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over good going this spring in Hong Kong, can handle the firm ground expected Saturday.

Andreas Suborics, a leading rider in Germany, returns on Silvano, who drew post 3.

With Anticipation, this year's Grade 1 Sword Dancer winner, has thrived this summer in distance grass races. The 6-year-old also won the Louisville Handicap and then was disqualified from first to second in the United Nations for interference.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said the waters get deeper for With Anticipation in the Man o' War because he carries scale weight, unlike his last three starts, which came in handicaps. In the Sword Dancer, With Anticipation carried 114 pounds.

"He got six pounds from King Cugat in the Sword Dancer," Sheppard said. "At some point, he'll be meeting horses at level weights that are better than him."

Pat Day rides With Anticipation, the likely pacesetter, from post 6.

Godolphin Stable and trainer Saeed bin Suroor will try to win their third Man o' War in four years with Mutafaweq, who was eighth in a Group 1 in Germany last month over a yielding course. Tom Albertrani, Suroor's assistant, said Mutafaweq prefers firm ground.

Jerry Bailey, a winner of three of the last four runnings of the Man o' War, rides Mutafaweq.

Ela Athena, the lone mare in the field, who was second in last year's Man o' War, and Fusaichi Zenon, a Group 2 winner in Japan, are also entered.

John's Call, considered a probable for the Man o' War, was not entered and will run instead at Pimlico in Saturday's $100,000 Bald Eagle Breeders' Cup.

Each of the runners carries 126 pounds, except for Ela Athena, who carries 123.

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