05/17/2005 11:00PM

Giacomo again an outsider

Preakness longshot Greeley's Galaxy is all eyes and ears, surveying the scene Wednesday morning at the Pimlico stakes barn.

BALTIMORE - Giacomo was an outsider when he won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 50-1 two weeks ago, and he'll be on the outside on Saturday in the 130th at Pimlico Race Course.

A full field of 14 was entered on Wednesday, and Giacomo ended up with post 13 for the 1 3/16-mile race. Afleet Alex, who finished third in the Derby, also ended up near the outside of the gate, in post 12, the same post he had in the Derby.

Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, made the consistent Afleet Alex the 5-2 favorite. He has Florida Derby winner High Fly next at 4-1, with Giacomo 5-1 and Closing Argument, the Derby runner-up, at 6-1. Frank Carulli, the linemaker at Pimlico, also has Afleet Alex at 5-2. Next on Carulli's line are High Fly at 9-2, Closing Argument at 5-1, and Giacomo the fourth choice at 6-1.

The only equipment change for the Preakness involves High Limit, who is adding blinkers.

The Preakness is the 12th race on a 13-race card. It is the second half of a Pimlico Special-Preakness double that closes Friday. The purse is $1 million, with $650,000 going to the winner.

At the draw, a representative for each horse picked the horse's post position after a random, two-step process that determined the order of selection. The connections of Closing Argument had the first pick, and his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, took post 7.

Trainer Nick Zito did well with two of his starters, High Fly landing post 2, and Noble Causeway post 3.

By the time the connections of Giacomo picked, only posts 13 and 14 remained. His co-owner, Jerry Moss, took 13. The longshot Going Wild ended up in post 14.

"We were hoping to get somewhere between 3 and 7," said John Shirreffs, the trainer of Giacomo. "Hopefully we'd like to see the field a little strung out going into the first turn, so that hopefully he isn't too wide."

The Preakness field is limited to 14 starters, and that's how many entered. There were 15 under consideration for the race, but the connections of Golden Man - who would have been the horse excluded under the Preakness's entry rules - elected not to enter because they did not want to risk losing their $100,000 supplemental fee.

Under the rules for the Triple Crown, a horse can be supplemented at the time of the Derby for $200,000, which makes the horse eligible for all three races. Greeley's Galaxy became eligible under that rule. At the time of the Preakness, the fee drops to $100,000, and it allows a horse to be eligible for both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, on June 11 this year.

Richard Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Golden Man, asked Georganne Hale, the racing secretary at Pimlico, not to enter Golden Man in the Preakness unless he was assured of starting. Had Golden Man entered, and then been excluded, it still would have cost $100,000, both Dutrow and Hale said.

"That's right," Hale said, "because it would make him eligible to the Belmont also. I just waited to see if the other 14 had entered, which they did."

The last time 14 were entered was 1999. The last time 14 ran was 1992. Since 1928, the only other time there were 14 horses in the Preakness was 1970. Of this year's 14 runners, 10 last ran in the Derby, which equals the record set in 1999.

Zito, who had five horses in the Derby, is sending three of them - High Fly, Noble Causeway, and Sun King - on to the Preakness. J.S. Healey (1914), James Rowe (1923), and D. Wayne Lukas (1996) are the only other trainers to have three starters in a Preakness.

Three flights on Wednesday brought runners here from Kentucky. Giacomo was on the middle flight, which arrived at Pimlico at 1:30 p.m. He was placed in stall 40 of the Pimlico stakes barn, which is the traditional spot for the Derby winner. Above the stall is a plaque with the names of prominent residents who have won the Derby and Preakness.

Shirreffs has a great appreciation for the history of the sport, and seemed awestruck by being associated with a horse residing in that stall.

"What an honor to go on that stall. What an honor to look up and see Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid," said Shirreffs, who had never before been to Pimlico. "Awesome."

For his flight, Giacomo had electrical tape wrapped around the hooves and soles of his four feet. Shirreffs did the same thing before he walked Giacomo over for the Derby, because Giacomo had pulled off his left front shoe while schooling two days before the Derby.

"He's lost that shoe a few times," Shirreffs said.

Shirreffs said he was glad Giacomo had been stabled at the far end of Churchill's stable area, away from barns that were quarantined there on Wednesday because of an outbreak of equine herpes.

High Limit and Wilko flew on the same plane as Giacomo. Going Wild and Greeley's Galaxy arrived earlier in the morning, around 9:30. Zito's trio arrived last, around 5 p.m.

Hal's Image arrived early Wednesday morning after a long van ride from Calder in Florida. Closing Argument traveled by van from New York on Wednesday morning. Galloping Grocer is scheduled to arrive Friday from New York, and Malibu Moonshine is scheduled to make the short trip from Laurel early Saturday morning.

Scrappy T breezed an easy three furlongs in 37.60 seconds on Wednesday morning at Pimlico. Sometime between when he left the barn and returned, his lost his two rear shoes.

The only jockey assignment that had been left unresolved until Wednesday regarded Going Wild. Robby Albarado was named to ride him.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee