03/21/2005 12:00AM

Childress matched again with Excessed

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Seven weeks after finishing a half-length apart in a third-level optional claiming race at a mile, Childress and Excessed will meet again under similar conditions at 7 1/2 furlongs in Wednesday's $37,000 feature.

continues to run well at age 7. A daughter of Evansville Slew, she outgamed Excessed following a stretch-long battle to register a half-length decision in their initial encounter. The win was the third in her last five starts and her first since being claimed for $65,000 by trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. out of her 2004 finale at Aqueduct on Dec. 30.

Childress has not started since that race, her 2005 debut, but she has not missed a beat in the morning, having worked steadily for the past seven weeks. She has won three of four starts at Gulfstream Park and has also won seven of her 11 starts at 7 1/2 furlongs or a mile.

Cornelio Velasquez will replace John Velazquez for Wednesday's rematch with Excessed. Velazquez has opted to ride Irish Melody for trainer Todd Pletcher.

, who is three years younger than Childress, will attempt to break a string of three straight second-place finishes Wednesday. Trained by Mike Mitchell, Excessed returned 20 days after being outfinished by Childress and chased home My Dear Lady as the 6-5 favorite over a sloppy track Feb. 24.

Jerry Bailey will stick with Mitchell and Excessed on Wednesday.

Irish Melody appears to be the only member of the field with a chance to keep Excessed and Childress from another personal duel. Idle since closing out her 3-year-old campaign with a sixth-place finish on grass in Aqueduct's Soaring Softly Stakes on Nov. 11, Irish Melody tries to win for the first time since a 2 1/2-length second-level allowance decision at Belmont on May 27.

Irish Melody has tested Childress on one previous occasion, finishing third to her, beaten less than a length, after setting the pace to midstretch at Belmont on Sept. 30.

Rounding out the field are Ride Her Out, making her second start following a nine-month break, American Miss, Miss Ojea, and Fifth Overture.