09/25/2001 11:00PM

Two Grade 1's for Cup hopefuls Saturday

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ELMONT, N.Y. - King Cugat looms a heavy favorite in the Turf Classic Invitational, and England's Legend squares off against Starine and European star Lailani in the Flower Bowl Invitational in the two Grade 1, $750,000 Breeders' Cup preps at Belmont on Saturday.

Saturday's 10-race card also includes the Grade 2, $125,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap, featuring Dream Supreme and Dat You Miz Blue.

Fields were drawn for all three races on Wednesday because Belmont Park was to be closed Thursday in observance of Yom Kippur.

The Turf Classic serves as a prep for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf on World Thoroughbred Championships Day here on Oct. 27. It also serves as one more opportunity for King Cugat to earn a victory at 12 furlongs.

In his last try at the distance, King Cugat encountered severe traffic trouble and finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by With Anticipation in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga. With Anticipation came back to win the Man o' War last month.

Before the Sword Dancer, King Cugat won the Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles. Both performances have trainer Bill Mott thinking that 12 furlongs is well within King Cugat's scope.

"By virtue of his last two races we think we can say it looks as though he'll stay on," Mott said. "It looked like last time the 1 1/2 miles was no problem."

Traffic has been a problem for King Cugat, who figures to drop near the back of the pack in this eight-horse field. Pace could be another problem as Slew Valley, who finished second to King Cugat in the Bowling Green, could get loose on the lead although trainer Michael Dickinson would like to see him come from off the pace.

"He's a bit more aggressive than I would like,'' said Dickinson, who is also considering running Slew Valley in Sunday's Canadian International at Woodbine. "I want to see him relax and come with a good late run."

Dickinson has also entered Cetewayo in the Turf Classic. Cetewayo, a 7-year-old who was second in the 1998 Turf Classic, makes just his second start of the year on Saturday. He is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Sussex Handicap at Delaware on Sept. 1.

With the Flow, Mutafaweq, Blazing Fury and Timboroa complete the field. As the only 3-year-old in the field, Blazing Fury carries 121 pounds, five less than the rest of the field.

John's Call skips Turf Classic

One horse conspicuous by his absence in the Turf Classic is last year's winner, John's Call. Trainer Tom Voss said John's Call suffered a bruised foot when he lost a shoe during a workout on Tuesday. However, late Wednesday afternoon Voss said he was "kicking myself'' for not entering.

"He bruised his foot, lost a shoe and I just didn't put him in," Voss said. "He seems to be fine now. He was definitely sore [Tuesday], we soaked it and he's out grazing right now. He seems to be fine."

Voss said he may look at the Sycamore Breeders' Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 7 or just wait for the Breeders' Cup Turf. "I don't know if he can get in the Breeders' Cup," said Voss, who added that he does want to run in the Turf.

John's Call, a 10-year-old, bled while finishing last in the Sword Dancer. Running on Lasix for the first time, he came back to run seventh in the Bald Eagle Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico last out.

Intriguing Flower Bowl

If Tranquility Lake opts to run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, then Lailani, England's Legend, and Starine could be the top three choices for the Filly and Mare Turf. Those three will face off in an intriguing 24th renewal of the Flower Bowl. In 1999, Soaring Softly used the Flower Bowl as a steppingstone to victory in the inaugural Filly and Mare Turf.

Lailani, a 3-year-old Great Britain-bred has won her last six starts, while England's Legend and Starine have won three and two straight, respectively.

Included among Lailani's victories are the Irish Oaks and Nassau Stakes, both Group 1 races. Lailani arrived from Europe on Sunday and after spending Monday in quarantine she vanned over to Belmont on Tuesday. Her connections were concerned when she didn't eat Monday night, but she was back on her feed Tuesday, according to trainer Ed Dunlop and will run. Jerry Bailey rides from post 2.

England's Legend was almost retired earlier this year, but after winning an allowance race at Santa Anita in March, owner Eduoard Rothschild opted to keep her in training. It turned out to be a wise decision as she has won the Grade 2 New York Handicap and Grade 1 Beverly D in her last two starts.

Her Beverly D victory came over a soft turf and after absorbing more than three inches of rain the last week, the Belmont turf figures to be soft on Saturday. Corey Nakatani will ride England's Legend from the rail.

Starine was simply awesome winning the Grade 2 Diana Handicap on closing day at Belmont and she has continued to prosper since that race. That is why owner/trainer Bobby Frankel has opted to run her in the Flower Bowl rather than wait for the Breeders' Cup, a race in which she'd have to be supplemented for $90,000.

Also entered in the Flower Bowl were Spook Express, Babae, Chaste, and Tweedside.

Dream Supreme tries 'Dat You' again

Dream Supreme will try to avenge a 6 3/4-length loss to Dat You Miz Blue in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap when the two head a five-horse field entered in Saturday's Gallant Bloom at 6 1/2 furlongs.

While Dream Supreme used this race as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint a year ago, trainer Bill Mott said it is unlikely that Dream Supreme will be pointed to that race this year.

Dream Supreme, the 120-pound highweight, drew post 5 and will be able to stalk Dat You Miz Blue, who drew post 2 and looms the main speed under Jorge Chavez. John Velazquez, the regular rider of Dat You Miz Blue, had already committed to trainer Shug McGaughey for the Gallant Bloom before Dat You Miz Blue was confirmed for the race.

Velazquez will ride Finder's Fee for McGaughey, who had to call an audible when Country Hideaway suffered an ankle injury. Gold Mover, winner of the Floral Park, and Cedar Knolls, were also entered.

NYRA hires Romanik as consultant

David Romanik, longtime legal counsel for Gulfstream Park, has been hired as a consultant by the New York Racing Association. Romanik, who also served a seven-month stint as president of Gulfstream in 2000, has been hired on a full-time basis through the end of the year. His status with NYRA beyond that has yet to be determined.

"He knows racing, he's got a racing background, there a lot of issues that pertain to his expertise,'' said Terry Meyocks, president and COO of NYRA.

Romanik, 49, will work on regulatory and administrative matters for the NYRA although he will not represent them in any court proceedings.

"I thought I was going to be involved in preparing for legal hearings for [the sale of New York City] OTB,'' Romanik said. "But they probably won't happen this year.''