05/15/2003 12:00AM

Preakness Profiles: Peace Rules


STRENGTHS: He had a lot on his side going into the Derby and if anything he has solidified his status as one of the top 3-year-olds with his fine third. After big wins in the Louisiana Derby and Blue Grass there remained questions, but his Derby run was excellent. He pressed the pace, maybe got a bit eager and pulled rider Edgar Prado to the lead going into the far turn, got clear turning for home, and just couldn't go with Funny Cide late. Only in the last jump did Empire Maker nip him for second. He figures to get another great trip here and it's possible we haven't seen his best yet. The Derby was just his third start of the year.

And, of course, it's always a strength when you can look up and see the trainer is Bobby Frankel.

WEAKNESSES: Going into the Derby there were those who questioned his pedigree. That won't come into play any more - he handled the 10 furlongs. He just couldn't handle Funny Cide and Empire Maker.

As far as pace goes, there were those who thought his Blue Grass win solely was a function of an easy lead on Keeneland's golden rail, but as his Derby showed he doesn't have to be on the lead.

STRATEGY: His handiness allows Prado to place him anywhere. In the Derby, Prado might have been keeping an eye out for Empire Maker, and now he must watch Funny Cide. Plenty of speed signed up, which should allow Prado to tuck in behind the speed then pounce.

VALUE: There was a lot of value in the Derby here - his preps were being pooh-poohed, everyone was keying on the other Frankel horse (Empire Maker), and his pedigree was in question. That added up to a generous price. Those questions are gone, however, as are many of the top 3-year-olds, which leaves Peace Rules as a horse who's going to take a lot of money. He may well go favored.