05/04/2002 12:00AM

Equality awaits Pimlico


While all eyes were on the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, trainer Graham Motion was already preparing a horse for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Motion, whose horses are stabled a few miles away from Delaware Park at Fair Hill, Md., sent out Equality for a five-furlong workout over a track labeled wet-fast last Monday. Equality, winner of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 17 and second in the $250,000 Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park a month ago, was timed in 1:00.80 for his breeze.

According to Motion, jockey Ramon Dominguez gave a glowing report on Equality's work, saying the colt broke off nicely, felt relaxed, and finished up strong. Dominguez will likely retain the mount if Equality starts in the Preakness.

Motion said he preferred to skip the Derby and shoot for the May 18 Preakness at Pimlico for several reasons.

"The Derby is probably the toughest race to win in the world," Motion said. "I think it can also be one of the hardest races on a 3-year-old. We also felt that he might not be quite ready at this time. The Preakness will give him a little more time and it is not quite such a mad house. I think it's a sensible course for the horse to point toward the Preakness."

Although Motion has made tentative plans to run Equality in the Preakness, he wants to evaluate the results of the Derby and gauge the prospective field before making a final decision.

Cat Chat to stretch out

The bettors weren't happy when Cat Chat failed as the 3-5 favorite last Saturday, but trainer Alan Goldberg said he was encouraged by his filly's second-place finish against allowance company.

The 4-year-old Chat Cat, racing for the first time since she was injured in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park last July 4, finished 4 1/2 lengths behind Tra La in a six-furlong sprint that went in 1:11.96.

Goldberg said he is uncertain where Chat Cat, winner of the Grade 2 Nassau County Stakes at Belmont last year, will run next, but said he would like to stretch her out to a longer distance.

* Track announcer John Curran, who had not missed a live racing day since the track reopened in 1984, a streak of 2,309 live programs, had his iron-man streak ended last Tuesday. Curran is out with a minor illness and expects to be back on the job by next Saturday.