03/22/2005 12:00AM

Ten-furlong question

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Roses in May, preparing for the Dubai World Cup, works five furlongs Monday at Nad Al Sheba.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Roses in May was barely off the track after a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic last October when owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Dale Romans decided on a goal for 2005.

They would to point Roses in May for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race.

So far, the plan is on track. Roses in May is favored to beat a field of international stakes winners on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup, including three challengers from the United States: Choctaw Nation, Congrats, and Lundy's Liability.

Romans has confidence in Roses in May, even though the horse has never won at 1 1/4 miles and was beaten by Saint Liam in his lone prep this year, a second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5.

"I think he's an up-and-coming horse," Romans said. "He's on the improve. If he can only step forward a little bit. . ."

Roses in May, who arrived here from Florida in mid-March, looks outstanding physically. Monday, he worked five furlongs over the unique Nad Al Sheba course, which features a three-furlong stretch, longer by a furlong than any stretch in the U.S.

"We haven't had a bump in the road since we left Fort Lauderdale," Romans said.

A winner of 7 of 12 starts and $1,890,187, Roses in May, 5, has won only three stakes. His reputation has been built largely on a five-race winning streak last year, highlighted by a nose win over Perfect Drift in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga in August.

In the Breeders' Cup, Roses in May finished three lengths behind Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year. Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of the 2004 Dubai World Cup, was third.

The Breeders' Cup Classic was run over 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Dubai World Cup. In the Classic, Roses in May earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 119.

"He's only run one 10-furlong race, and I thought it was the best race of his life," Romans said. "He got his highest speed figure. He caught a monster that day in Ghostzapper. It was circumstances that we didn't have longer races before the Breeders' Cup."

Romans said the loss in the Donn does not bother him.

"The Donn was a tough race," he said. "Saint Liam is a top-quality horse. I didn't squeeze the lemon dry to win the Donn."

Roses in May is as low as 3-2 with English bookmakers. "That makes me nervous," Romans said. "But I'd rather be that than 20-1."

The toughest competition comes from the fellow American travelers, one of whom had a tough time just getting here.

Lundy's Liability, trained by Bobby Frankel, arrived at Nad Al Sheba at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Lundy's Liability and the Frankel-trained Marenostrum, who will run in the $2 million UAE Derby on Saturday, were scheduled to arrive Monday evening, but were delayed 12 hours in Amsterdam because of a mechanical problem with the airplane.

They are not likely to train on the racetrack until Thursday, after routine blood tests are completed.

Lundy's Liability, who won the 2004 UAE Derby when trained by Michael de Kock, has won two major stakes at Santa Anita for Frankel in the last six months, including the San Antonio Handicap last month. He was fifth in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, a race in which Congrats was second.

De Kock has one of the leading local hopes in Yard-Arm, a four-time Group 1 stakes winner in South Africa last year. Yard-Arm most recently was fifth in his dirt debut March 5.

The rest of the probable starters for the World Cup include Adjudi Mitsuo, Dynever, Elmustanser, Grande Hombre, Jack Sullivan, King's Boy, and Ruler's Court.

Roses in the desert

A look at Roses in May, heading into Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup:

* Record: 12-7-4-0
* Earnings: $1,890,187
* Top Beyer: 119
* Top win: 2004 Whitney Handicap (G1)
* Big question: Can he win a 1 1/4-mile race?