07/25/2001 11:00PM

Tiller has decision to make for Win City


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There is a very good chance that Win City, winner of last Sunday's Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, will make his next start Aug. 11.

But whether that appearance will come here, in the Breeders' Stakes, or at Mountaineer Park, in the West Virginia Derby, remains a source of debate.

The Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, is the finale of the Canadian Triple Crown series. Win City finished second to Dancethruthdawn in the opener, the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here June 24, then turned the tables on the filly in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, which is the second leg.

The West Virginia Derby, also for 3-year-olds, goes at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

"As of today, we're 50-50," said Bob Tiller, who trains Win City for Frank DiGiulio Jr. and the Estate of Frank DiGiulio, in his office here Friday morning. "We'll be having more discussions."

The obvious advantage to the Breeders' is that it takes place in Win City's backyard, so there is no wear and tear from shipping.

"We'd like to keep the horse racing until he's 5 or 6 years old," said Tiller. "He's a gelding; we've got to be cautious with him."

Beyond the home-field issue, however, the West Virginia Derby would seem to have a decided edge.

Both the Breeders' and West Virginia Derby are worth $500,000, but the exchange rate heavily tilts that balance in Mountaineer's favor and there is no Canadian Triple Crown bonus at stake now that a sweep is impossible.

The switch in surfaces for the Breeders' is a concern for Tiller, who trained both Win City's dam, Winsfordan, and maternal grandsire, Domasca Dan. Winsfordan never ran on turf and Domasca Dan tried the grass just once, finishing fifth here in the Canadian Maturity and suffering a career-ending injury in the process.

"That's been a sour note in the back of our minds," said Tiller, adding that even if Win City did stay for the Breeders' he would not run on soft turf.

Turf aside, Tiller believes the 1 1/8-mile distance of the West Virginia Derby to be much better for Win City than the 1 1/2 miles of the Breeders'.

"I believe he's got a better finishing kick up to a mile and an eighth," said Tiller. "He's not bred to run a mile and a quarter, or farther."

Then, there's the weight.

"He'd have to carry 126 pounds here," said Tiller. "Down there, he gets in with 119.

"But, you're going out of town."

Dream Launcher out for year

Audre Cappuccitti had been looking forward to sending Dream Launcher to the West Virginia Derby. But Dream Launcher, who is owned and trained by Cappuccitti, is unlikely to see action again this season after having undergone surgery on an ankle this week.

"He's gone to the farm," said Cappuccitti.

Dream Launcher, a Kentucky-bred, finished second in his lone start at 2 and served notice when he opened his current campaign with a second-place finish here in the Woodstock. He then rattled off three straight victories, capped by a win in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park, before finishing fifth when trying turf for the first time in the June 24 Charlie Barley.

"He came out of that race okay," said Cappuccitti, "but then every morning, when we sent him out to train, he'd come back with a little filling in his ankle. We'd sweat it out, and he'd be okay."

Cappuccitti, concerned about the persisting condition, sent Dream Launcher for X-rays, and the veterinarian discovered a chip in his ankle. And while veterinarians told Cappuccitti the horse could be back at the track at the end of August, she decided to give him the rest of the year off.

"It might have been different if I was going away in the winter," she said. "But I'd only have him here for a couple of months. He's such a nice horse, and this will give him a chance to be an even better 4-year-old."

Canadians invade Saratoga

Trainer Phil England has set up shop at Saratoga with 12 horses owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, some in partnership with R Bristow Farm.

Warleigh, a recent maiden winner here, was England's first starter at the meeting, finishing sixth Wednesday.

Other members of the England raiding party include Speightstown, winner of three straight sprints here and pointing to the Aug. 3 Amsterdam; Lodge Hill, winner of last year's Breeders'; Pilgrim Road, who is 2 for 2 here this year; and Blades Hill, who graduated impressively on the turf here July 1.

Meanwhile, it will be business as usual for the outfit here at Woodbine, with assistant trainer John McInerney running the show. McInerney will send out Alleynedale, a maiden 3-year-old filly by Unbridled out of In My Cap, in Saturday's fifth race.