04/17/2002 11:00PM

Include returns in easy spot

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Include, last year's Maryland Horse of the Year, begins his 2002 campaign in Saturday's $100,000 Jennings Handicap for Maryland-breds at Pimlico.

Include, who easily won last year's Jennings, will be heavily favored in the 1 1/8-mile Jennings, which drew nine before the scratch of Saratoga Games on Thursday morning.

Include's trainer, Buddy Delp, said he wouldn't be surprised if this season will be the best yet for Include, a 5-year-old Broad Brush horse.

"Horses continue to mature at 5 and 6, especially Broad Brushes," Delp said. "I believe his best races are ahead of him - he's training so well - but we'll know more about that when he runs on Saturday."

Last year, Include won five of nine starts and earned $1,435,400. In addition to his win in the Jennings, Include won the Pimlico Special, Massachusetts Handicap, New Orleans Handicap, and the Whirlaway. He also finished second in the Clark, and was third in both the Suburban Handicap and Meadowlands Cup. His only off-the-board finish was his seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

With the Pimlico Special canceled this year, Delp said either the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap on June 1 or the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on May 18 will be Include's next start after the Jennings.

"There are a lot of races out there," Delp said, "and from what I've seen this year, I wouldn't [duck] any of the handicap horses. At Include's best, he can win those big races."

Include, owned and bred by Bob Meyerhoff, hasn't run since the Clark on Nov. 23, but that shouldn't be a problem because he has fired off a layoff. Include, who periodically was treated last year for a sore splint, was rested after the Clark and resumed training on Feb. 1 at Delp's Laurel Park barn. The horse has several sharp works under his belt for the Jennings.

Delp said he entered Concerned Minister in the Jennings in the role as a rabbit for Include, who is a closer.

"I don't have any illusions that Concerned Minister will beat Include," Delp said. "He's in there to ensure a realistic pace."

Include, who drew the rail, carries 123 pounds as the highweight. Delp has named Mario Pino on both his horses.

First Amendment has posted some solid Beyer Speed Figures this year, but probably won't be able to control the pace as he did in his two wins this year.

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