05/25/2004 11:00PM

Eddington yet to bloom

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Smarty Jones galloped 1 3/4 miles at Philadelphia Park Wednesday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - At 3-10 odds in the 2000 Preakness, Fusaichi Pegasus was the strongest favorite in a Triple Crown race since dual-classic winner Spectacular Bid was the same price in the 1979 Belmont Stakes.

Fusaichi Pegasus, like Spectacular Bid, was beaten. Red Bullet, a chestnut son of Unbridled ridden by Jerry Bailey, rolled past Fusaichi Pegasus turning for home and went on to win the Preakness by 3 3/4 lengths.

On June 5, Smarty Jones figures to be in the vicinity of 3-10 when he tries for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Once again, Bailey will be aboard a chestnut son of Unbridled trying to steal the show.

Bailey, who stopped Funny Cide's Triple Crown bid aboard Empire Maker in last year's Belmont, will ride Eddington in the 136th Belmont. While Eddington has yet to win a stakes race, he has shown Bailey enough talent to think he could be something special.

"He's like that kid in junior high school in athletics where you say, 'Man as soon as this kid gets coordinated and gets everything together he could be any kind of real superstar,' '' Bailey said. "That's the way Eddington feels.''

Bailey said he has been on horses like that before, including the multiple Grade 1 winner Slew o' Gold, who "was a big, gangly, type horse who when he grew into his body was really good.''

Though Bailey said Eddington was not gangly, the colt gives Bailey the feeling "that when the light bulb comes on he might run a hole in the wind. The light bulb is still kind of dim right now.''

Eddington impressed Bailey with his maiden and allowance wins at Gulfstream Park in February. In both races, Eddington was into the race early, galloping alongside a pacesetter before taking over when ready. Eddington made his stakes debut in the Gotham, a one-turn mile in which he was slammed at the start and never switched leads in the stretch when third behind Saratoga County.

Three weeks later, in the Wood Memorial, Bailey felt he had a ton of horse turning for home. But, Eddington finished third, beaten a half-length. His nose loss to Master David for second cost Eddington a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

"The Wood was a disappointment because I thought he had every chance to show what kind of horse he was and he didn't finish them off in the stretch,'' Bailey said.

In the Preakness, Eddington was a length behind Smarty Jones around the clubhouse turn and Bailey thought, "This is the day.''

"And about two seconds later I was going in the opposite direction, scratching my head,'' he said.

At the three-eighths pole, Bailey thought he might be last in the Preakness. Then, in the stretch, Eddington showed enough courage to nose out Lion Heart for third.

"But he didn't drop down and give me a flashy last eighth of a mile,'' Bailey said.

Bailey said he was confident going into the 2000 Preakness and into last year's Belmont with Empire Maker. This year is different.

"I'm not going in as confident, although in the back of my mind if Eddington puts it all together can he win? Of course,'' Bailey said. "Is Smarty Jones a cinch? As close to one as you could probably find. But, if Spectacular Bid can get beat anything can happen.''

Smarty Jones had bruise before Derby

Trainer John Servis revealed on Wednesday that Smarty Jones had a minor bruise prior to his victory in the Kentucky Derby.

"We had a situation going into the Derby where he was a little tender on a foot one morning, and we actually elected to shoe him a little earlier than his scheduled time, just to make sure he didn't have something going on,'' Servis said. "It turned out to be the right move because the blacksmith ended up cutting a bruise out of his [right] front foot, and I think that helped.''

Two days after Smarty Jones arrived from Keeneland, Smarty Jones worked five furlongs in 58 seconds at Churchill Downs.

Earlier in the week, Servis said that Smarty Jones had filling while training at Keeneland for one week between the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby.

Meanwhile, Smarty Jones galloped 1 3/4 miles Wednesday morning at Philadelphia Park.

Smarty Jones is expected to work seven furlongs at Philadelphia Park on Friday morning. Servis said he may consider shipping Smarty Jones to Belmont on Tuesday night, as opposed to Wednesday.

Another fine for Elliott

Stewart Elliott, the jockey of Smarty Jones, was fined $500 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's director of licensing for "making false statements in relation to his racing license application.''

As was the case on his license applications in Kentucky and Maryland, Elliott did not disclose that he had a criminal record. In 2000, Elliott pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for an altercation with friend Alexander Kovalik. Elliott also pleaded guilty to simple assault and criminal mischief as part of an altercation with a former girlfriend.

For not disclosing that information, Elliott was fined $1,000 by the Kentucky Racing Commission and $25 by the Maryland Racing Commission.

* Tapit, the Wood Memorial winner, worked six furlongs in 1:15.40 over the turf course at Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in North East, Md.