05/15/2002 11:00PM

Lukas horses often peak in Preakness


BALTIMORE - "I don't see any surprises in the Preakness," Wayne Lukas said. "I think the horses that were prominent in the Kentucky Derby are going to be prominent here again. The order may change a little bit, but if you are handicapping the race, you have to start with the first four finishers in the Derby. "

Lukas brings powerful credentials to his forecast. He has trained five Preakness winners, tying him for second in the record books with Tom Healy behind the leader, Robert Walden, who had seven during the last quarter of the 19th century. Lukas has a chance to make it six winners Saturday with Proud Citizen, who finished second in the Derby, beaten four lengths by War Emblem and longshot Table Limit.

"If [War Emblem] has everything his own way, as he did in the Derby, he'll win again," Lukas said. "He has a high cruising speed, he is a gifted colt, and he gets over the ground well. I saw him work in Kentucky the other day before he shipped here and he looks good. I don't expect any favors. The scenario has got to change but I'm not counting on others to make it better for us.

"We're going to be a little tighter because of the Derby," he continued. "Proud Citizen should be more effective because he has had a limited campaign. There are a few new shooters with speed, like Booklet.

"There is another aspect to the Preakness that is significant," Lukas said. "Coming back only two weeks after the Derby, you test the constitution of a horse. Most horses have been getting three and four weeks between races and the two weeks between the Derby and Preakness puts some pressure on them. They don't all respond the right way, which is why the Triple Crown is so elusive."

The majority of Lukas's Preakness winners - Tank's Prospect, Tabasco Cat, and Timber Country - improved off their Derby performances while Codex didn't start in the Derby and Charismatic won both races. Lukas has a knack for the classsics. Together with his five Preakness winners he has four Derby victories and four winners of the Belmont for a total of 13. Nobody does it better and if War Emblem is beaten Saturday, Proud Citizen would appear to have as good a chance as any.