06/18/2005 12:00AM

Don't Get Mad rallies wide to win Northern Dancer

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Don't Get Mad, his training hindered by a quarantine of his Churchill Downs barn, wins the Northern Dancer by 3 1/4 lengths under jockey Gary Stevens.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Don't Get Mad showed in the Kentucky Derby that he was a horse who could withstand the rigors racing on short rest when he finished fourth behind Giacomo one week after winning the Derby Trial.

Saturday, in the Grade 3, $217,400 at Churchill Downs, he proved himself adept at adapting to limited training, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths in his first race since the May 7 Derby.

From mid-May through early June, Don't Get Mad had been quarantined in a barn at Churchill Downs after a discovery of several cases of the equine herpes virus. That forced him and other quarantined horses to miss racing and to workout during separate training hours for a period of about three weeks.

It mattered not. Rallying from fifth in the field of six under jockey Gary Stevens, Don't Get Mad took command with a wide move on the final turn and drew away from runner-up Unbridled Energy and third-place Real Dandy in the stretch.

Don't Get Mad, a son of Stephen Got Even owned by Wayne Hughes, raced 1 1/16 miles in a stakes record 1:42.46 after rallying behind splits of 46.80 seconds and 1:12.04.

Winning trainer Ron Ellis praised his brother-in-law, trainer Paul McGee, for having Don't Get Mad ready under the adverse circumstances. With Ellis attending to his stable in California, Don't Get Mad had been under McGee's care at Churchill Downs since the Derby.

His next start will likely come in the July 9 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park, Ellis said.