04/27/2005 11:00PM

First things first for Don't Get Mad

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Greeley's Galaxy (above) works a mile Thursday at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Mikki Fincher, who said afterward that the colt tired her out.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - B. Wayne Hughes should have a motto for the next week: Don't Get Mad, get in.

The California-based owner has two candidates for the 131st Kentucky Derby, which will be run one week from Saturday. But the one that he would prefer to be in the Derby, Greeley's Galaxy, needs a defection or two by entry time Wednesday to get in, and the other one, Don't Get Mad, would be coming back just one week after competing in Saturday's at Churchill Downs, a scenario not normally preferred by that colt's trainer, Ron Ellis.

First things first. Don't Get Mad drew the outside post against seven rivals in the one-mile Derby Trial, the traditional opening-day feature at Churchill Downs. Once that race has been run, Hughes will have four days to ponder his options with his colts.

"I just want him to run well Saturday and have two to consider, then hope everything works out," Hughes said Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

Hughes flew in Wednesday night in time to see Greeley's Galaxy, the Illinois Derby winner, work one mile on Thursday morning at Churchill Downs. Greeley's Galaxy was one of five Derby candidates who worked Thursday. The others were Andromeda's Hero, Greater Good, High Limit, and Sun King.

As of Thursday, 22 horses were still under consideration for the Derby, including both of Hughes's. If more than 20 horses are entered in the race, the field is determined by earnings in graded stakes races. Nevertheless, horses nominated to the Derby take precedence over those not nominated. Since Greeley's Galaxy was not nominated, and thus would have to be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000, he is at the back of the line, despite the $300,000 he made winning the Grade 2 Illinois Derby.

Hughes has accepted blame for the paperwork snafu that resulted in Greeley's Galaxy not being nominated, though several people connected with the colt also had the opportunity to prevent the oversight. What's done is done, however. Now, Hughes has to decide how to proceed.

If the field stays intact through Wednesday, and 22 are entered, Don't Get Mad will represent Hughes, assuming he runs well on Saturday. However, if the field is narrowed to 21, still including Don't Get Mad, Hughes would likely ask Churchill Downs's racing department to pull Don't Get Mad's entry, allowing Greeley's Galaxy to get in as the 20th horse.

Doug Bredar, Churchill's racing secretary, confirmed that an owner can enter with a preference declared, allowing Don't Get Mad's entry to be withdrawn at the 11th hour if it would put Greeley's Galaxy in the Derby.

"That's probably what we'll do when we enter," Hughes said. "One will have a preference."

"If he gets in, he gets in. If he don't, he don't," said Warren Stute, who trains Greeley's Galaxy. "There's nothing we can do."

Don't Get Mad is 20th on the graded stakes earnings list. The Derby Trial is no longer a graded stakes race, so no entrant in the race other than Don't Get Mad is using it as a potential Derby prep this year. Don't Get Mad is the best-known horse in the one-turn mile race, but he is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby.

"The race wasn't pitiful, but it was a real dull performance," Ellis said Thursday morning from California, where he was preparing for a flight to Kentucky. "We're trying to keep him in the ballgame for the classics, the Derby or the Preakness. If he runs back to any of his other races, it would make him tough in the Derby Trial."

Don't Get Mad won the first two starts of his career last fall at Churchill Downs while trained by Ellis's brother-in-law, Paul McGee. Don't Get Mad has used Lasix for his last two starts, but will not be treated with the anti-bleeding medication on Saturday.

"About 1 percent of horses don't react so well to Lasix," Ellis said. "His last two races were not up to par."

There is a good chance of rain Saturday, but that may help Don't Get Mad, who has two excellent efforts on off tracks.

There are several other contenders in the Derby Trial. Big Top Cat was third in the Bay Shore Stakes in his last start against the unbeaten Lost in the Fog. Miracle Man has won all three of his starts. Vicarage, who was second earlier this year in the Louisiana Derby, is returning to a sprint for red-hot

trainer Todd Pletcher. Crimson Stag, Santana Springs, and Ultimate all are stakes-placed.

In other Derby developments Thursday:

* Greeley's Galaxy worked a mile under exercise rider Mikki Fincher, who conceded she got more tired than her mount after going once around from the furlong pole.

"I got tired before he did," she said, smiling. "That's why I didn't gallop him out as strongly to the finish line."

Greeley's Galaxy was given an official clocking of 1:40.60 on the fast main track.

"He was supposed to go from the eighth pole and continue out to the seven-eighths pole, but she got tuckered out," Stute said.

* In a treat for morning workout watchers, High Limit worked in company with 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper for trainer Bobby Frankel and more than held his own, completing six furlongs in 1:13.80 under jockey Joe Deegan. High Limit, the Louisiana Derby winner, was most recently second in the Blue Grass Stakes. Ramon Dominguez has the mount in the Derby.

* Trainer Nick Zito worked two of his five Derby runners, Andromeda's Hero and Sun King. Andromeda's Hero, third last time out in the Arkansas Derby, came out after the renovation break and completed five furlongs in 1:01.80 with jockey Rafael Bejarano while working in company with the allowance runner Pinpoint. Bejarano is scheduled to ride Consolidator in the Derby.

"He's a jockey we use on an everyday basis," Zito said. "I love the way he works horses. He did us a favor today."

Zito has yet to name a rider for Andromeda's Hero for the Derby.

* Sun King, who was fourth in the Blue Grass in his last start, zipped past a pair of workmates during an early morning five-furlong drill in which he was timed in 1:00 under exercise rider Maxine Correa. Zito said he wanted Sun King to regain his confidence after a rough trip in the Blue Grass.

"Sometimes you have to work on a horse psychologically," Zito said. "I had to try to get in his head. After the Blue Grass, he seemed mad. He was attacking his hay. I wanted to make him feel good, make him feel like, 'I can still do it.' That's why I worked him with two horses. He did what I wanted him to do."

* Greater Good, who was fifth last time out in the Arkansas Derby, worked a slow six furlongs in 1:17.40 with jockey John McKee while traveling from the five-furlong pole to the seven-furlong pole.

"My horse didn't work very fast, but he finished well," said his trainer, Bob Holthus.