08/26/2002 11:00PM

The Judge Sez Who: Heart stopper in a bridle


OKLAHOMA CITY - A deep closer managed by two heart patients would seem to be a dangerous mix, but The Judge Sez Who, winner of the Grade 3, $295,000 Oklahoma Derby last Sunday at Remington Park, has been nothing but good for the health of his owner, Richard Simon, and his trainer, Milton Wolfson.

Both men have undergone open-heart surgery in the last year and a half, but have had their recovery sped along by the excitement brought on by The Judge Sez Who. Tight finishes are a way of life for the colt, who one start previous the Oklahoma Derby was beaten a neck after racing far back early in the Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby.

"He cleans out the arteries, and gets the adrenaline pumping pretty good," said Wolfson. "When he makes his move, he gets you screaming."

Wolfson said The Judge Sez Who came out of his win in the Oklahoma Derby so well that he and Simon are considering running him back in both the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs Sept. 21, and the Grade 3, $400,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 5.

"It depends on how much time we feel he might need between this race and the next, but he recovers pretty quick," said Wolfson. "He's a laid-back horse, so theoretically there's a chance that we might be able to make both of those races."

The Judge Sez Who vanned out of Remington Park on Tuesday for Dallas, where he will catch a flight to Miami. He was due back to his Calder Race Course stall Tuesday night, said Wolfson.

Simon, who has about 600 horses counting broodmares and yearlings, has been in the racing business about five years, according to Wolfson. He has farms in Ocala, Fla., and New York, and one of the first horses he purchased was Mandy Mack, the dam of The Judge Sez Who.

Engel the angle at Remington

One of the best trainer angles this meet at Remington Park has simply been betting on Roger Engel. Engel has won seven races from 13 starters at the meet to rank second in the standings, one win behind leader Joe Lucas.

"I've just been very fortunate," said Engel, 38. "All of my owners have decent horses, and that's what it takes."

The Remington meet has been a continuation of a strong year for Engel, who won with 45 percent of his starters this summer at Prairie Meadows. Since arriving at Remington Park, he has been winning races at a 53 percent clip, and he won the first stakes of the meet when Medium Rare defended his title in the opening-day $30,000 Taliaferro Memorial.

Medium Rare is one of 24 horses Engel has in training. A former $5,000 claimer, Medium Rare has a 3-for-5 record this year, having won every other start. He is to make his next start Monday in the $30,000 Silver Bullet Centennial Handicap at Remington.

"He's kind of my pride and joy," said Engel. "He just doesn't run a bad race. Every time you lead him over, he runs his heart out. He's won at an almost 50 percent clip. No many horses do that."

Other horses Engel is pointing to upcoming stakes are Cheyenne Breeze and Coldiron Slew, both of whom could start next in the $30,000 Red Earth Derby on Sept. 28.

Engel, and his brother, Rick, who also trains at Remington, learned their craft from their father, former trainer Andy Engel.

"My dad taught us everything; old school," said Roger Engel. "The main thing he taught us was that every horse is different. When you walk into your shed row, treat each horse as an individual."