05/13/2002 11:00PM

Two Item Limit out to end long drought

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Two Item Limit lost last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff and Gazelle at Belmont Park, but they might be the best races in her career so far.

Two Item Limit will need another supreme effort when she takes on the formidable duo of Raging Fever and Victory Ride, a pair of Grade 1 winners, in Saturday's $200,000 Shuvee at Belmont. As of Tuesday, Shiny Band was the only other confirmed starter in the Grade 2 Shuvee, a mile dirt race.

Two Item Limit is seeking her first win since capturing the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico a year ago.

Two Item Limit's most notable efforts last year came in races she lost in New York during the late summer and fall against top competition. She earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 104 when she finished second, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Exogenous in the Grade 1 Gazelle in September. Two Item Limit, who was 37-1 in the Gazelle, also was overlooked in the betting in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at odds of 32-1.

Two Item Limit finished third in the 11-horse BC Distaff field, only beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the winner, Unbridled Elaine.

Steve DiMauro, who trains Two Item Limit for Joseph F. Graffeo, said he picked the wrong spot for Two Item Limit's 2002 debut when he ran her in the seven-furlong Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct on March 30.

Two Item Limit trailed the field throughout and finished sixth, beaten 10 1/2 lengths by the winner, Raging Fever, who set the pace.

"She wants to go longer and it didn't help she was down on the inside." DiMauro said. "She wants to go farther than the mile she gets Saturday, but at Belmont there's a better shot that speed comes back than at Aqueduct."

DiMauro said Two Item Limit isn't going to win any beauty pageants, but what the filly lacks in looks, she makes up for with talent.

"She'll fool you because she's not a big filly; she definitely outruns her looks," DiMauro said.

Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard Two Item Limit for her half-mile work in a bullet 49.05 seconds around the dogs at Belmont on Sunday, rides.

Gleaves comes back home

After leaving New York seven years ago, trainer Phil Gleaves is back with 14 horses and is stabled at Saratoga. By the end of May, Gleaves said he would have 18 to 20 horses in his barn, with a large concentration of 2-year-olds.

Gleaves, a former assistant to Woody Stephens, left New York in 1995 to train in California, where he stayed for 1 1/2 years before moving his operation to Florida. For a couple of summers, Gleaves had horses in New Jersey and Delaware.

Gleaves, 44, said he hopes Saratoga becomes his annual base of operation during the spring, summer, and fall, with Florida his headquarters during the winter.

"I went in search of a circuit I was comfortable with and picked one I left seven years ago," Gleaves said. "I'm thrilled to be back. During the off season, Saratoga is the best place in North America to train 2-year-olds."

Among the horses in Gleaves's barn is stakes winner Worldly Victor, who is a candidate for the $100,000 Hill Prince on June 15.

Gleaves entered July Child, a 2-year-old maiden, in Thursday's second race.

In 1986, in his second year of training, Gleaves won the Travers, Super Derby, and Haskell with Wise Times.

* Sunday, trainer Leo O'Brien began serving a 10-day suspension for a post-race positive for acepromazine on Irish Glory, who finished third at Aqueduct on March 13. O'Brien also was fined $1,000.