05/17/2002 12:00AM

Medaglia d'Oro can get the gold in Preakness


Speed ruled in the Kentucky Derby with front-runners War Emblem and Proud Citizen leading all the way around the track en route to a 1-2 finish. This Saturday, both horses will try to do it again as they lead a field of 13 horses entered in the 127th running of the Preakness.

Just four Kentucky Derby horses have made their way to the Preakness, including War Emblem and Proud Citizen as well as the fourth- and seventh-place Derby finishers, Medaglia d'Oro and Harlan's Holiday. Rounding out the field are nine new-shooters, none of whom are particularly inspiring prospects.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, where the rest of the field rated off the pace, War Emblem is likely to see a lot of pace-pressure in the Preakness from speed horses like Booklet, the wire-to-wire winner of the Fountain Of Youth, and Menacing Dennis, the zippy runner-up in last month's Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park. With a contested pace and faster fractions likely, we should see what War Emblem is really made of in the Preakness.

If the Preakness were a normal everyday race filled with speed, you'd probably look for a closer or at least a horse with tactical speed as your top selection. Why treat this race any different just because it's the Preakness? Besides, even if War Emblem and Proud Citizen did go 1-2 around the track again, you sure won't get another chance at a $1,300.80 Bob Baffert - D. Wayne Lukas exacta. As the old saying goes, "Be there for the wedding, not the funeral."

Medaglia d'Oro is probably the one horse in the Kentucky Derby who had his chances compromised by a bad trip. The problem with this, and with most trip horses for that matter, is that everyone saw the same thing that we saw which makes it impossible to get an overlay. Medaglia d'Oro is the morning-line 5-2 favorite in the Preakness.

Nevertheless, Medaglia d'Oro does make the most sense in the Preakness based on the ability he showed in winning the San Felipe (107 Beyer) and placing in the Wood Memorial (105 Beyer) while prepping for the Kentucky Derby. Even his fourth-place effort in the Derby was big considering that he's a horse with good tactical speed who got bumped and shuffled back to the rear of the field at the start of the race. He later passed most of the field to round out the superfecta.

With a good start in the Preakness, Medaglia d'Oro should be perfectly placed just off the pace, and should have enough late kick to win if the speed horses fold due to an expected fast pace.

The best of the nine new-shooters entered in the Preakness looks like U S S Tinosa, who was excluded from the Derby due to lack of stakes earnings. U S S Tinosa is perhaps the best closer in the speed-filled Preakness, and looks like a good stab at odds somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-1. U S S Tinosa will get a good pace to run at, and already owns a 1 1/8-mile win so you know distance shouldn't be a problem. Any exacta or trifecta that you can cash with U S S Tinosa in it should pay nicely, and that's exactly what we're looking for in this race.

None of the other new faces inspired much confidence here, so is wouldn't be a surprise to see War Emblem and Proud Citizen in the money at the end of the Preakness. In fact, boxing the Kentucky Derby horses and tossing out all others may not be a bad betting strategy in this race if you're not a fan of U S S Tinosa.

War Emblem is the Derby winner, and now has two Beyers (114 and 112) that are much higher than any other horse's in the race. Even if he gets cooked by pace pressure, he still could be good enough to hold on for a slice in the Preakness.

Proud Citizen shows a good improving pattern and could try to rate in the Preakness, but still looks like a shaky selection to win. Both of Proud Citizen's two career wins came in wire-to-wire fashion against lesser competition, and the Preakness may be a difficult spot for him to win from either on, or off the pace.



Preakness, Saturday - Race 12

Grade 1, 1 3/16 miles, purse: $1,000,000

1) 5-Medaglia d'Oro

2) 1-U S S Tinosa

3) 8-War Emblem

4) 12-Proud Citizen

$100 PLAY

Play 5-Medaglia d'Oro to win and box him in exactas and trifectas with 1-U S S Tinosa, and 8-War Emblem. Then put live longshots 13-Equality and 2-Magic Weisner as well as 12-Proud Citizen in the bottom slot of some trifectas under the top three selections.

$5 three-horse exacta box: 1-U S S Tinosa, 5-Medaglia d'Oro, and 8-War Emblem ($30 bet)

$2 three-horse trifecta box: 1-U S S Tinosa, 5-Medaglia d'Oro, and 8-War Emblem ($12 bet)

$2 trifectas: 1,5,8 / 1,5,8 / 1,2,5,8,12,13 ($48 bet)

$10 to win on 5-Medaglia d'Oro