09/25/2003 12:00AM

Sulamani tries to validate Million win


ELMONT, N.Y. - Sulamani earned his first Grade 1 win in this country in the Arlington Million when Storming Home was disqualified from first for interference. On Saturday at Belmont Park, Sulamani's connections are confident he won't need an assist from the stewards to win the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational.

The Grade 1 Turf Classic, New York's last major prep for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf, drew seven runners, including four Grade 1 winners. Sulamani will face the Man o' War winner and runner-up, Lunar Sovereign and Slew Valley; United Nations Handicap winner Balto Star; European invaders Sabiango and Polish Summer; and Deeliteful Irving.

All runners carry 126 pounds in the 1 1/2-mile race.

Sulamani, who races for Godolphin and is trained by Saeed bin Suroor, won four races at the Turf Classic distance last year in France, including the Group 1 French Derby.

This year, Sulamani won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, finished second in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, and was fifth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Simon Crisford, the racing manager for Godolphin, expects a strong effort from Sulamani on Saturday.

"I think the Turf Classic is definitely when you're going to see Sulamani at his best, right at the top of his game, because Belmont is the right track for him and the distance is right," Crisford said.

Jerry Bailey, seeking his first Turf Classic win, rides Sulamani for the first time. Sulamani, a closer, drew post 7.

Lunar Sovereign, a 4-year-old colt who is 4 for 4 on the Belmont turf, won the Man o' War by 2 3/4 lengths. In his only start at the Turf Classic distance, Lunar Sovereign finished eighth in the Sword Dancer in August at Saratoga.

"I'm throwing that out because he was too close to the pace," said Kiaran McLaughlin, Lunar Sovereign's trainer.

Jockey Richard Migliore rides Lunar Sovereign, who drew post 4.

The probable pacesetter is Balto Star, who led from start to finish to win the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park in July. He prefers firm turf.

Sabiango, a Group 1 winner in Germany, receives Lasix for the first time. Polish Summer is trained by Andre Fabre, who won the Turf Classic with Apple Tree in 1993.