05/06/2002 11:00PM

Medaglia d'Oro switches to - who else? - Bailey

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Medaglia d'Oro, who rallied to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby, will have a new Hall of Fame jockey for the May 18 Preakness Stakes, with Jerry Bailey taking over for Laffit Pincay Jr., trainer Bobby Frankel said Tuesday.

Medaglia d'Oro got off to a poor start in the Derby on Saturday, then, because of the slower-than-expected pace, was caught in traffic for much of the race. "He was in trouble from the get-go," Frankel said.

Medaglia d'Oro was finishing well at the end of the race, but was still eight lengths behind the runaway winner, War Emblem.

Bailey and Frankel teamed regularly last year to win major races in New York, and with Medaglia d'Oro now on the East Coast - he traveled to Belmont Park from Churchill Downs on Monday - Frankel decided to seek out Bailey.

"Who else am I going to go with?" Frankel said Tuesday morning from Hollywood Park.

Medaglia d'Oro will train at Belmont Park for the next week. Frankel said he anticipates giving Medaglia d'Oro one work between the Derby and Preakness, most likely next Thursday, two days before the 127th Preakness. He said Medaglia d'Oro would be sent by van from Belmont Park to Pimlico Race Course the day before the race.

The prospective Preakness field remained at 16 on Tuesday, but there were two alterations - Tails of the Crypt bowed out and Menacing Dennis was added to the list.

Menacing Dennis, a quick California-bred colt, will head to Baltimore over the weekend in hopes of running in the Preakness, trainer Jeff Bonde said on Tuesday from northern California, where he is based. Menacing Dennis, who is currently stabled at Hollywood Park, is scheduled to work there on Thursday morning. Menacing Dennis most recently finished second in the Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds, 1 1/2 weeks ago during Hollywood Park's Gold Rush card.

The Preakness field is limited to 14 runners. A complicated, three-tiered process is used to determine the field if more than 14 are entered. If the 16 currently pointing for the race are entered next Wednesday, excluded would be Straight Gin and Table Limit, in that order.

Bonde said that if Menacing Dennis does not get into the Preakness because of unforeseen late entries, he would run him on the Preakness undercard in the Sir Barton Stakes. Victor Espinoza rode Menacing Dennis in the Snow Chief. Since he is the rider for War Emblem, Bonde said he will need a new rider.

Tails of the Crypt finished sixth in the Lexington Stakes in his last start. John Ross, who trains Tails of the Crypt, said from Woodbine in Toronto that he wants to find an easier spot for his horse.

"I'm going to run him in the Marine Stakes here at Woodbine on the 18th," Ross said. "If he runs well in that, we might consider the Belmont."

The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, is June 8 at Belmont Park.

Crimson Hero and Straight Gin, both trained by Nick Zito, were scheduled to arrive at Pimlico on Tuesday afternoon. Crimson Hero worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 on Monday at Churchill Downs. U S S Tinosa will not arrive at Pimlico until Thursday, according to Pimlico officials, who had initially believed U S S Tinosa would head there this past Monday.

Trainer John T. Ward Jr. said that Booklet, who worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Keeneland on Monday, would likely work again next Tuesday at Churchill Downs, before flying on Wednesday to Baltimore. Ward was relieved to find out that the speedy Mayakovsky was passing the Preakness in favor of races at shorter distances.

"That's the main one I was interested in," Ward said.