05/10/2004 11:00PM

Objective: One angry colt

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On his pony, trainer John Servis (right) keeps tight rein on Smarty Jones, under exercise rider Pete Van Trump.

BENSALEM, Pa. - John Servis believes Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones will be in for the "toughest race he's had in his life" in Saturday's $1 million Preakness at Pimlico. In preparing his horse for such a bout, Servis is doing everything he can to make sure Smarty Jones is fighting mad.

For the second consecutive morning, Servis accompanied Smarty Jones to the track astride his stable pony and never let Smarty Jones and exercise rider Pete Van Trump loose during the colt's 1 1/2-mile gallop at Philadelphia Park. It was obvious by the end of the training session that Smarty Jones was getting agitated, wanting to do more than his handlers would allow.

"The last three-eighths of a mile he was hurting me, he was laying into me pretty good," said Servis, who also took Smarty Jones to the gate for a schooling session.

Servis had considered letting Smarty Jones gallop by himself on Tuesday, but felt the horse might do too much. Smarty Jones galloped very strongly when turned loose last Friday and Saturday.

"I want him mad, I want him really aggravated," Servis said. "When I came in this morning I wasn't sure which way I was going to go, and when I walked in the barn he was right at the front of the stall; he was throwing his head all around. That's a good sign. That's what I like to see. I said maybe I'll give him one more day with the pony and see if I can really tighten the screws on him."

Servis said he would consider letting Smarty Jones gallop by himself Wednesday morning, "but it depends on how he is. If he's too cranked up, I might just stay with where we're at."

Servis hopes that any pent-up anger Smarty Jones has in him will be unleashed Saturday in the Preakness, where he will face at least nine challengers. Lion Heart, Imperialism, The Cliff's Edge, and Borrego all come out of the Derby, while Rock Hard Ten, Eddington, Water Cannon, Sir Shackleton, and Little Matth Man are new shooters. Rock Hard Ten and Eddington would have run in the Kentucky Derby - and attracted plenty of support - but were excluded due to lack of sufficient graded stakes earnings. Song of the Sword, 11th in the Derby, was still possible to be entered, according to trainer Jennifer Pedersen. Entries were to be made and post positions drawn on Wednesday.

While Smarty Jones will be a heavier favorite than he was in the Derby, and though there will be fewer horses to run against, Servis believes the Preakness will be Smarty Jones's toughest task.

"First of all, Lion Heart," Servis said. "The Derby was only his third race this year. I'm sure he's going to be even better than he was going into the Derby. I think Rock Hard Ten and Eddington are certainly two very qualified horses.

"And the horse in Maryland," Servis said of Water Cannon, "he's won five in a row. I really don't know that much about him, but it sounds like he's a very nice horse. Not to take anything away from the horses we ran against in the Derby, but to come out of the Derby and right back in two weeks and to face, if not your toughest competition certainly one of them in Lion Heart, he's going to have to be at the top of his game."

Because of the heat - the temperature was expected to be in the mid-80's Wednesday - Servis was considering taking Smarty Jones to the track at 5:30 Wednesday morning and putting him on a van by 10 a.m. If he does that, Smarty Jones should be at Pimlico around noon.

The long-range weather forecast in Baltimore for Saturday is a temperature in the mid-80's with a 40 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms.

Servis said that Smarty Jones would race on Lasix in the Preakness as he did for the first time in the Derby. Servis said that he had the horse certified as a bleeder in Kentucky. "I didn't want to put him on Lasix for the Derby and then take him back off, so we got him certified," he said.

Zito's pair first to arrive

At Pimlico, both Sir Shackleton and The Cliff's Edge, trainer Nick Zito's two runners, had an easy day of training after being the first Preakness runners to arrive on Monday.

Zito is usually the first of the out-of-town trainers to arrive in Baltimore. In addition to the two Preakness runners, he brought along four other horses, including El Prado Rob and Preach It, who will run in lesser stakes this weekend.

"For the horses themselves, it's less traumatizing to get in early," Zito said. "I think it's a good thing for the horse's sake, for the people's sake. It's new surroundings. It lets them adjust. But if someone has a great horse, it won't work."

In other words, all the planning will be for naught if Smarty Jones repeats his Derby performance in the Preakness.

"That horse comes with his game. He's 7 for 7," Zito said.

The Cliff's Edge, the winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, finished fifth in the Derby despite losing both his front shoes during the race.

"I don't like to make excuses, and I really think the winner is a special horse," Zito said. "I don't know if we could have beaten Smarty Jones even with the shoes. But you need traction, and he didn't get it. If you're going to beat Smarty Jones, you have to run your race."

Zito said The Cliff's Edge's feet were "stinging him" after the race. "We had to soak them to take the sting out," he said.

Zito said he gave some thought to skipping the Preakness with The Cliff's Edge and pointing for the June 5 Belmont Stakes, but decided to continue on the Triple Crown trail. He is hoping The Cliff's Edge will be joined by Birdstone, Royal Assault, and Sir Shackleton in the Belmont. Zito has never won the Belmont, but has finished second five times.

"Maybe I can win it by default. I'm going to surround them like Indians," Zito said.

Sir Shackleton is a newcomer to the Triple Crown trail. He won the Derby Trial for his third straight victory, but was never considered for the Derby one week later.

"It will be good to see how far he can step up," Zito said. "When you win the Derby Trial, you start thinking Preakness. It's like if you have a band next to you, you start marching."

Imperialism arrives from California

Imperialism, the third-place finisher in the Derby, arrived at Pimlico Tuesday afternoon after a flight from California.

He was greeted by his owner, Steve Taub, who spent the bulk of the day lounging about in the Pimlico press box, granting interviews to media members who happened by, and availing himself of the free food in the lounge area.

Kristin Mulhall, the trainer of Imperialism, was not due in Baltimore until Tuesday evening.

* Jockey Richard Migliore has been named to ride longshot Little Matth Man in the Preakness. Two years ago, Migliore picked up the mount Preakness week on Magic Weisner, a 45-1 shot who fell three-quarters of a length short of upsetting Derby winner War Emblem.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman