05/15/2003 12:00AM

Preakness Profiles: Kissin Saint


STRENGTHS: The mere fact that he was third in a Wood Memorial that produced the Kentucky Derby exacta (Funny Cide-Empire Maker) moves him up. Sire was superb at classic distances, finishing second in the 1993 Belmont Stakes. In 2000, Red Bullet finished second in the Wood, skipped the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness, nearly the same pattern as this guy's.

WEAKNESSES: Previous connections did not think that much of him, starting him in consecutive maiden claiming races to commence his career. He hasn't posted a 100 Beyer yet, and the winner of this event figures to easily surpass the century mark. He wasn't able to make up any ground on Funny Cide in the last quarter-mile in the Wood and attempts to make up 7 1/2 lengths on the Derby winner. Sixteen of the last 17 Preakness winners last ran in the Kentucky Derby, but he skipped Louisville to start here.

STRATEGY: Raced very close to the pace in the maiden victory and in the subsequent allowance tallies, but was bothered some at the start of the Wood and found himself too far back when New York Hero and Funny Cide flew to the front. Needs rider Migliore to break him much better for the Preakness, then must find a better stretch kick than in the Wood. He could also be compromised by a swift pace if too close early.

BETTING VALUE: Considering he was in a claiming race in January and now races in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, you have to consider him a real longshot to win this event (at least 30-1 odds). He was dismissed as the fifth choice at 16-1 in the Wood, so I doubt he gets much respect here. While the first stakes try was respectable, it wasn't good enough to elevate him into my top four.