05/14/2003 11:00PM

Alberts reflects on 'Magic' moment


BALTIMORE - Magic Weisner, last year's Preakness runner-up at odds of 45-1, is a little more than a month away from returning to the races, according to his owner and trainer, Nancy Alberts.

Magic Weisner had his second five-furlong breeze of the year on Sunday, covering the distance in 1:03. Alberts, who works the horse, said Magic Weisner is still "not himself yet,'' but he is improving.

"He looks wonderful and he just has to get a little more strength in his hind," Alberts said. "It's taken a little more time than I figured it would. You could tell every day, he's a little better."

Alberts is just thankful to have Magic Weisner back in her Laurel Park barn. Last September, when Magic Weisner was supposed to be headed for the Pennsylvania Derby, he suffered from what initially was thought to be colic. Then West Nile virus was diagnosed, which meant his life was in jeopardy. He spent several weeks at the New Bolton equine clinic in Pennsylvania.

"There were three racehorses that got it and the other two died," Alberts said. "I'm lucky I have a horse."

Alberts nearly turned the Preakness upside down last year when Magic Weisner came flying through the stretch to fall only three-quarters of a length short of defeating Derby winner War Emblem.

"I watched the race on TV and I knew I had that sheepskin noseband on him, and when I saw it come into sight turning for home I went 'All right,' " Alberts said.

Alberts is torn over whom to root for on Saturday. She said she knows Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Funny Cide, from his days as a steeplechase rider in West Chester, Pa.

"I used to watch all the girls chasing him,'' Alberts said. "I used to tease him about that.''

However, Alberts said she has to root for Foufa's Warrior because that gelding's trainer, Larry Murray, helps her with the training of Magic Weisner and some of her other horses.