05/15/2003 12:00AM

Preakness Profiles: Midway Road


STRENGTHS : He was one of the more visually impressive winners during the Keeneland spring meet, capturing a two-other-than allowance by nearly 12 lengths. Though untested beyond 1 1/16 miles, his pedigree suggests the additional furlong of the Preakness shouldn't be a problem.

Midway Road was the first Preakness starter to arrive at Pimlico. While that doesn't guarantee success, he will have had more time to acclimate to surroundings than all but the locally based entrants.

Trainer Neil Howard is conservative when it comes to placing horses, particularly those of stakes quality, and the fact that he believes this colt can make an impact should not be taken lightly. Howard trained 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

WEAKNESSES: The most glaring negative is his record in stakes company - he has finished out of the money in all three attempts, only one of which was a graded race.

Midway Road has yet to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, and his career-best Beyer, a 99, was earned last year. Two of his three wins were at Keeneland, and there's always the possibility that he's more fond of that track than others.

STRATEGY: He has never been more than 5 1/2 lengths behind at the first call in any race. Expect a similar strategy Saturday, though he may rate farther behind if the early pace gets too heated. Midway Road's winning rallies at Keeneland started around the far turn, a strategy that propelled horses such as Real Quiet and Charismatic to Preakness wins.

VALUE: His lackluster stakes experience will suppress support, making him intriguing longshot material. Consider for the exotics and maybe a straight bet if 20-1 or higher.