05/14/2002 11:00PM

New world sports order: Security


BALTIMORE - Pimlico Race Course is ringed by thin, urban streets with two-way traffic. This weekend, those streets will become the track's first line of defense.

On Friday and Saturday, Pimlico's busiest weekend, most of the streets will be converted to a one-way traffic pattern designed to keep cars moving and at least 75 feet from the grandstand. Any cars that cross certain intersections, called hot spots, will be subject to extensive searches. Inside the parking lot, gray concrete barriers common to construction sites and war zones will create a buffer. At grandstand entrances, uniformed guards and police officers will search purses, pocketbooks, and bags. Anything larger goes in the trash.

This is post-Sept. 11 at a Triple Crown race - or at any large sporting event. Last year, attendance at the Preakness was 104,454. Two weeks ago, Churchill Downs drew 145,033 for the Kentucky Derby

"Obviously, it's all precautionary," Lou Raffetto, Pimlico's chief operating officer, said Wednesday morning. "But as far-fetched as something might seem, after Sept. 11, anything is possible."

The number of security personnel at the Preakness will be double the number last year, officials said, at an additional cost of $100,000. Everyone who enters Pimlico will be subject to a search, and, for the first time, Pimlico has banned any type of hard container from the grandstand and clubhouse.

The ban is something of a blow to the reputation of the Preakness, the most laid-back of the three Triple Crown events. Baltimore residents take pride in carting in their own chairs and picnic lunches in huge coolers. But the ban does not apply to the infield, where getting falling-down drunk is considered something of a rite of passage for the youthful crowd of 60,000 that typically gathers.

The infield crowd will be allowed to bring in coolers, backpacks, and thermoses, Raffetto said. The track will search all the containers, as it has always done, but Raffetto acknowledged that infield security will be a step down from the grandstand, in part because of concerns about attendance.

"After discussing it with the task force, with the various entities - the FBI, the state police, the Baltimore city police - the consensus was that it was perfectly fine to go with business as usual," Raffetto said. "The concept is that anyone who wants to do something would want to make an impact on the structure, not in an open area."

Glass containers are banned, and any food that is brought in must be packed in clear plastic bags. The intent is to make inspection go as quickly as possible, and to keep anyone from disguising any smuggled items that could be dangerous, Raffetto said. Cellular phones are permitted, as well as cameras, both still and video, and binoculars. Patrons can bring folding chairs, suntan lotion, and beach blankets, both in the grandstand and in the infield.

Pimlico is encouraging drivers to drop off their passengers at certain checkpoints and to find parking away from the grandstand. Cars that enter the gate at the corner of Hayward and Winner Avenues - the only gate with access to the building - will be searched.

Pimlico will sell styrofoam coolers and transparent plastic bags at its entrances to people who show up with their own coolers. The products will be sold at cost, Raffetto said: $2 for a styrofoam cooler and $3 for the plastic version. Raffetto said the security procedures should hardly be noticeable, adding perhaps two or three minutes to the typical process of getting through the doors.

Dixie tops solid undercard

Led by the $200,000 Dixie Handicap, there will be seven stakes run on the Preakness undercard, which was drawn on Wednesday.

The Dixie, run at nine furlongs on turf, drew a solid field of nine led by Del Mar Show, Strut the Stage, and Dr. Kashnikow. Del Mar Show is trained by Bill Mott, who has won three of the last eight runnings of the Dixie, including last year's renewal with Hap.

Del Mar Show is making his first start since finishing 10th in a stakes in Dubai. A 5-year-old son of Theatrical, Del Mar Show is 7 for 14 lifetime including victories in the Ft. Lauderdale Handicap and Hialeah Turf Cup. Jerry Bailey, who has won three of the last seven Dixies, has the call.

Strut the Stage won a stakes-caliber allowance race at Keeneland last month and is 5 for 8 lifetime. He was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes last August.

Dr. Kashnikow won the Fourstardave and River City handicaps last year. In his only start this year, Dr. Kashnikow finished fourth, beaten less than two lengths in the Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct.

Bowman's Band, runner-up in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Park Handicap, will face off against Stymie Handicap winner Ground Storm in the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap, which drew a field of nine.

Snow Ridge, who was disqualified from first in the Churchill Downs Handicap, will try to make amends against eight rivals in the Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap at six furlongs. His top rivals figure to be the improving He's a Knockout and local sprint stars Rusty Spur and Sassy Hound.

A field of 13 was entered in the $125,000 Gallorette Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The contenders include the Christophe Clement-trained entry of Step With Style and Siringas, the Bill Mott-trained Watch, Morena Park, and De Aar.

The Michael Tabor-owned entry of Pass Rush and Shah Jehan head a field of nine entered for the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds. The race also features the return to the races of multiple-stakes winner Iron Deputy.

Listen Here, who won the Nashua last year, tops a field of 10 entered in the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

Political Attack, the Tropical Park Derby winner, heads a field of 10 entered in the $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Can Hahn give Weisner an Xtra boost?

When owner/breeder/trainer/exercise rider Nancy Alberts suffered a broken shoulder six weeks ago, it meant she could no longer get on her Preakness contender, Magic Weisner. Luckily, Andy Hahn was free.

Up until mid-March, Hahn had been the exercise rider for Xtra Heat, the remarkable sprinter who has won 20 of 26 starts and was crowned 3-year-old filly champion of 2001. When trainer John Salzman sent Xtra Heat to Dubai for a race, he did not send Hahn, who took offense and parted ways with Salzman.

Hahn rents a room in Alberts's house and, now that he was freelancing in the mornings, became the exercise rider for Magic Weisner.

"I have a couple of horses of my own and this helps pay the bills when they're not running good," Hahn said. "Nancy is such a sportsman, she puts it all back into the game."

"He's a friend of mine," Alberts said. "At least I know where he is."

- additional reporting by David Grening