03/26/2002 12:00AM

Fortune and fame after Derby, too

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LAS VEGAS - It's just that kind of year. Based on his talent and pedigree, Repent (by Louis Quatorze) is among the early favorites to win the Kentucky Derby, but his penchant for not changing leads does not inspire confidence at this point. Instead of using traditional Derby preps such as the Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial, or Arkansas Derby, trainer Ken McPeek is taking an unorthodox approach, using the Illinois Derby as Repent's final prep. His performance should firmly establish him as the horse to beat, especially if he changes leads on cue.

While there is no bigger prize for a 3-year-old than the Kentucky Derby, there are lucrative and prestigious races down the road, and this may be the year that a late-maturing 3-year-old could wind up as the champion.

In 1975, Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure was the leading 3-year-old for the first half of the year, but Wajima, who won five straight stakes (Marylander Handicap, Monmouth Invitational Handicap, Travers Stakes, Governor Stakes, and Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap) from July through September, was voted 3-year-old champion.

Wajima developed into a formidable rival for established older runner and subsequent Horse of the Year Forego. Wajima disposed of Foolish Pleasure in the Governor Stakes, a prestigious race formerly run at Belmont Park on Labor Day weekend as a prep for the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap. Wajima then defeated Forego in the Marlboro Cup with Foolish Pleasure unplaced, and ran second to Forego in the Woodward Stakes.

While it is far too late for a maiden to consider the Triple Crown races, there are some well-bred 3-year-olds who have yet to win:

Apache Thunder (Thunder Gulch-Miss Blanche, by Faraway Son). By stamina influence Thunder Gulch, this colt comes from a female family that produced Court Circuit, Honorable Miss, Lady D'Accord, Missymooiloveyou, Ommadon, Bailjumper, and Yankee Law.

Ashton Hall (A.P. Indy-Milly Ha Ha, by Dancing Brave). A $350,000 Keeneland September yearling, he is bred for grass and distance. His European female family includes the stamina sires Mill Reef and Crepello.

Beautiful Indy (A.P. Indy-Beautiful Bid, by Baldski). There isn't a more appealing pedigree than this. Beautiful Indy is by a top stallion and is a half-brother to champion Beautiful Pleasure and a major stakes winner and sire Mecke. He was training brilliantly in Maryland for trainer John Scanlan in February but was scratched from a scheduled debut in March.

California Cool (Deputy Minister-Triple Strike, by Secretariat). A $375,000 Keeneland September yearling, California Cool is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and his third dam, I Understand (Dr. Fager), is a half-sister to two stakes-winning full brothers, Royal and Regal and Regal and Royal. I Understand's dam, Native Street, was one of the best fillies of her generation, which included Moccasin, Lady Pitt, and Natashka.

Chief Whitefeather (Unbridled-White Feather, by Tom Rolfe). Bred for stamina on both sides of pedigree, he is working at Calder Race Course for trainer Bill White. A half-brother to stakes winner and sire Take Me Out, his female family produced full brothers Graustark and His Majesty.

City Editor (Editor's Note-Lyphard Gal, by Lyphard). This colt is a half-brother to Heritage of Gold, and his third dam, Special Account, is a full sister to 1971 2-year-old filly champion, Numbered Account, the dam of Private Account, Dance Number, and Polish Numbers. He should be equally effective on dirt and turf.

Coincide (Cozzene-Belle's Good Cide, by Slewacide). Training at Fair Grounds for Elliott Walden, this colt is bred strongly for turf. In addition to Cozzene, he has turf influences Little Current and Graustark up close in his pedigree.

Crap Shooter (Unbridled-Bold Mate, by Nasty and Bold). Winner of his training race at Fair Grounds for Dallas Stewart on March 6, this colt is ready to do some damage in his very first start.

Daybreaker (Capote-Angel Kisses, by Private Account). He was training this winter at Gulfstream for Todd Pletcher. Daybreaker is by a speed influence out of a full sister to a Travers Stakes winner, Corporate Account.

Folkestone Park (Dixieland Band-Call Me Fleet, by Afleet). He ran third on March 23 at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher. His second dam is a half-sister to Storm Bird and Northernette.

Garrison Hill (Cozzene-Forever Rainbows, by Deputy Minister). He was sired by a grass champion and versatile sire, and his dam is a half-sister to a Kentucky Derby winner, Winning Colors. He has been working steadily for trainer Philip England.

Go Easy (A.P. Indy-Easy Now, by Danzig). Having trained steadily in Florida for Shug McGaughey, he will likely debut at Belmont. His stakes-winning dam is a half-sister to Easy Goer and Cadillacing, but his dam has been a disappointment as a broodmare.

Indian Ground (Nureyev-Campfire, by Hansel). This colt is bred exclusively for turf, top and bottom. His second dam is a half-sister to Blushing John.

Marshal Cody (Seattle Slew-Winter Sparkle, by Northjet). This full brother to stakes winner Williamstown trained at Payson Park this winter for Christophe Clement and should be effective on dirt and turf.

Massiah Street (Holy Bull-Southern Summer, by Storm Cat). By speed influence Holy Bull, he is out of a dam who is a half-sister to stakes winners Nasty and Bold, Pembroke, and Told. He may have a future on turf.

Mr. Pat (Harlan-Frosted Flake, by Frosty the Snowman). By the sire of Menifee and Harlan's Holiday, he has as his third dam a multiple stakes winner, Love Sign.