04/15/2003 11:00PM

Judge Sez Who gets to show best

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The Judge Sez Who figured to be a major contender in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap March 29, but never got the chance to compete after he injured his hind leg when he was cast in his stall less than 72 hours before the race.

Trainer Milt Wolfson is hoping The Judge Sez Who can stay out of trouble long enough to run on Sunday as one of the favorites in the $75,000 Skip Away Handicap.

"He whacked his hind leg in the stall, it blew up, and there was no way I could run him in the Gulfstream Park Handicap," Wolfson said. "He's fine now and perhaps the whole thing will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It's going to be a long year and he had a hard campaign last year."

The Judge Sez Who, a Grade 3 winner of more than $500,000 as a 3-year-old in 2002, has not started since he finished fourth behind Best of the Rest in the Sunshine Millions Classic here on Jan. 25. Best of the Rest will be the starting highweight in the 1 1/16-mile Skip Away.

Best of the Rest owns a 2-1 advantage in head-to-head meetings with The Judge Sez Who. Last year, Best of the Rest and The Judge Sez Who ran one-two in Calder's Carl Go Rose Classic. The Judge Sez Who got a measure of revenge when he rallied from far back to beat Best of the Rest by nearly two lengths in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap in late December.

"It looks like we'll be seeing a lot of Best of the Rest all year," Wolfson said. "When you've got a 3-year-old there are so damn many good races around you can pick your spots. But with an older handicap horse there are so few opportunities and all the good ones are looking at the same races. There are several really good horses in the division and I really don't want to be banging heads with them. I'm not looking to be a hero. After the Skip Away we've got the Memorial Day Handicap at Calder and then it looks like we'll be hitting the road."

Sir Bear adapts to life on farm

Sir Bear won three of the last five runnings of the Skip Away, including the 2002 edition when he upset odds-on favorite Red Bullet. Now 10, Sir Bear won't be back to defend that title. He was retired following the Grade 1 Donn Handicap this winter.

Sir Bear is living the life of leisure on a farm just down the street from the home of owners Barbara and Al Smollin in Davie, Fla.

"He's doing great," Al Smollin said. "He's out running around and playing in the paddock every day. Barbara rides him at least once a week and Felicity, his regular exercise rider when he was in training, also comes out and gets on him at the farm once a week."

Smollin said Sir Bear retired perfectly sound.

"He had a bleeding problem that got progressively worse," said Smollin. "If we could have controlled the bleeding he would still be racing today."

With Anticipation nearly race fit

Another of racing's old war horses, With Anticipation, is gearing up for another campaign. Idle since finishing second behind High Chaparral in the Breeders' Cup Turf, With Anticipation arrived here last week after wintering in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. He worked six furlongs in 1:12 on Wednesday morning.

"I was very happy with him," said trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "He got quite a bit out of the work."

With Anticipation won three Grade 1 stakes as a 7-year-old in 2002. His first start this year will come in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

"The race at Churchill is only a mile and one-eighth and they might go a little quick for him in there," said Sheppard. "He's always done so well in the longer races. But it's a good place to start out and get him ready for the rest of the year."