02/03/2004 12:00AM

Still a bit left in tank at age 9

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - With Anticipation will be the sentimental favorite but Del Mar Show and Host the more logical choices if Thursday's $46,000 allowance feature goes as scheduled at a mile over the Gulfstream Park turf course.

will be making his first start since finishing seventh in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park last July 5. Now 9, With Anticipation is a five-time Grade 1 winner but made only three starts and failed to hit the board last year. He will be seeking his first victory since winning Belmont's Man o' War on Sept. 7, 2002. Overall, With Anticipation has won 15 races for earnings in excess of $2.6 million.

With Anticipation suffered a minor injury last summer while training for a defense of his title in Saratoga's Sword Dancer Handicap. He returned to serious training on trainer Jonathan Sheppard's farm in Camden, S.C., shortly after New Year's Day and shipped to Gulfstream last week.

"He worked four or five times on the farm before arriving here," said Sheppard, who trains With Anticipation for breeder George Strawbridge Jr.'s Augustin Stable. "He's getting older and I'm not sure if he's up to running in Grade 1 company any more but Grade 2's and 3's aren't bad, and as long as he's sound and happy there's no reason for him not to continue."

Jockey Pat Day, With Anticipation's regular rider for the last two years, also makes a return to action Thursday to handle the assignment. Day has been recuperating from rotator cuff surgery.

is sitting on a win at this level after dropping a nose decision to Request for Parole going nine furlongs on Jan. 11. Request for Parole returned two weeks later to capture the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida Handicap.

Del Mar Show, who was beaten just a half-length by Better Talk Now in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap on Nov. 1, is a multiple graded stakes winner trained by Bill Mott. He will be ridden again by Jerry Bailey.

Host may be an even bigger question mark in the race than With Anticipation. The 2003 horse of the year in his native Chile, Host will be making his first start in this country after being purchased privately by owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk and turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher late last season. Host has been working extremely well at Palm Meadows, according to Pletcher, and will race on Lasix for the first time with John Velazquez aboard.