08/23/2001 11:00PM

No question Baird deserves Hall call


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Should Dale Baird, who has saddled more than 8,500 winners while training primarily at tracks in West Virginia, be elected to racing's Hall of Fame?

"Yes" says Jim Chehardy of Maynardsville, Tenn. in a recent letter. "Between 1971 and 1999 Baird was the nation's leading trainer in races won 15 times. He has had 300 winners a season a record eight times.

"I have been in the horse industry since 1950. . . . I have trained horses for nearly 40 years, and in the process have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of great horsemen and have seen a lot of great horses run. . . . I believe Dale Baird deserves to be considered as a nominee to the Hall of Fame.

"Baird is a native of Martinsville, Illinois. He started training in 1961 . . . saddled his first winner that season at Ellis Park . . . and went on to create a great record, one that will be hard to break. He owns many of the horses he trains. . . .

"He had to make a living with cheap, bad-legged horses day-in and day-out. He has gotten very little press . . . but through hard work, patience, sacrifice, and a great God-given talent, he has a record that the Hall of Fame committee should review."

Chehardy is not the only one who feels Baird deserves Hall of Fame recognition.

"Yes," said Allen Jerkens, one of America's most respected horsemen and a member of the Hall of Fame.

"Dale Baird has an outstanding record. There isn't as much training between races at the smaller tracks. They keep racing their horses and there is no need for training. But Baird has a great record and I would be in favor of his admission."

In fact, Baird's name has appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in the past but his record is not well known. He deserves the honor, and sooner or later, we believe it will come.

Few juvenile standouts

This hasn't been a notable month for 2-year-olds.

From the first years of its existence, almost 140 years ago, 2-year-old racing has been a mainstay of the sport here. Many stables delay the debut of their best young horses to bring them out at Saratoga, where the audience invariably includes the country's leading breeders.

By this point of the meeting, we have usually seen at least a half-dozen promising youngsters. Few have impressed this month, but one colt who created a bit of excitement is Mayakovsky, owned by Michael Tabor. An international "good thing," he came out for the first time on July 25 and came through handsomely, setting a track record by racing the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.20.

Trainer Patrick Biancone has been working diligently with him, trying to curb the anxious tendencies of the Matty G. colt, who is scheduled to make an appearance in next weekend's Hopeful Stakes.

Another colt to attract attention is from Overbrook Farm, named Jump Start, winner of both his starts. He won his maiden at first asking last month at Churchill Downs, then shipped here to win the Saratoga Special under Pat Day, despite going wide into the stretch. Jump Start is also under consideration for the Hopeful by trainer Wayne Lukas, who has saddled five winners of the race.

Lukas had another good 2-year-old winner in The Call of Duty, a $45,000 Keeneland yearling owned by Tabor who finished strongly to score by 3 1/2 lengths in his first and only start on Aug. 6, when he raced five furlongs in 58 seconds. By Honour and Glory, the Metropolitan Mile winner, The Call of Duty appears to have some potential.