04/30/2002 11:00PM

Even in dim light, Buddha sparkles

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With all the serious preperations for Saturday's Kentucky Derby now complete, Wednesday was merely a maintenance day for Derby contenders, all of whom either jogged, galloped, or walked the shed row.

The primary source of interest Wednesday morning was the first local appearance of Buddha, who did not arrive on the grounds until the previous day. Catching a glimpse of Buddha on the racetrack meant putting in a very early wake up call as trainer Jim Bond sent him out in the first set shortly after the track opened for business at 5:45 a.m.

Even in the dark Buddha made an excellent appearance, his dapples readily apparent in the dim light near the finish line as he stood almost motionless alongside Bond's stable pony for 10 minutes, seemingly undaunted by his new surroundings. He then proceeded to jog a quarter-mile before breaking into a 1 1/4-mile gallop looking relaxed and comfortable with the surface while continuing along at a good clip before being pulled up in the vicinity of the half-mile pole.

Buddha looks like a million bucks and seemingly shows no ill effects from his hard effort in the Wood or long van ride from New York.

Request for Parole appeared a bit short strided during his Tuesday gallop but seemed more fluid when allowed to stretch his legs and two-minute lick from the three-eighths to the seven-eighths pole on Wednesday.

Came Home expended very little energy on his first day back to the track since Monday's five-furlong work, his once around jog under exercise rider du jour Chris McCarron interrupted by a brief walk through the paddock.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sent Private Emblem out for a once- around gallop from the half-mile pole. He again made a strong appearance circling the one-mile oval with his neck elegantly bowed.

Saarland continues to look good while Blue Burner had an energetic 1 1/4-mile gallop after visiting the paddock simultaneously with Proud Citizen.

The lone Oaks worker of the day was You, who breezed an easy three furlongs from the quarter to the seven-eighths pole immediately after the renovation break. She has trained as well as anyone on the grounds over the past week.

Oaks longshot Farda Amiga turned in a strong gallop shortly before daybreak.

Clocker's Report

Churchill Downs, Wednesday, May 1, track fast

BUDDHAGalloped 1 1/4 miles

BLUE BURNERGalloped 1 1/4 miles after visiting paddock

CAME HOMEJogged one mile, schooled in paddock

CASTLE GANDOLFOIn quarantine at Keeneland

DANTHEBLUEGRASSMANWalked

EASY GRADESGalloped 1 1/2 miles

ESSENCE OF DUBAIWalked

HARLAN'S HOLIDAYWalked

IT'SALLINTHECHASEGalloped 1 1/2 miles, visited paddock

JOHANNESBURGIn quarantine at Keeneland

LUSTY LATINGalloped 1 3/4 miles, stood in gate

MEDAGLIA D'OROJogged one mile

OCEAN SOUNDWalked

PERFECT DRIFTWalked

PRIVATE EMBLEMGalloped one mile

PROUD CITIZENJogged 1 1/2 miles after visiting paddock

REQUEST FOR PAROLETwo minute licked through the stretch

SAARLANDJogged one mile

WAR EMBLEMWalked

WILD HORSESJogged 1 1/2 miles

WINDWARD PASSAGEGalloped one mile