03/24/2005 12:00AM

Private Terms looks like toss-up


Aside from pushing the "all" button, there's no easy way for a bettor to safely get through the first leg of Saturday's Magna 5. The Private Terms, a one-mile race at Laurel Park that launches the pick five wager, poses a difficult puzzle.

Of the 11 3-year-olds in the $50,000 Private Terms, six won their most recent start. To compound matters, four horses are switching from a sprint to a route. Three will be racing at Laurel for the first time.

Based on proven form at the distance, merits a slim advantage. Winner of back-to-back stakes at Charles Town and Laurel, Malibu Moonshine most recently shipped to Kentucky for the $100,000 John Battaglia at Turfway Park, where he finished fourth of nine coming from off the pace.

"We were a little disappointed in his last," said trainer King Leatherbury, who ranks third on the all-time win list with 6,065 career victories. "There were six speed horses in there, so we decided to take him back. Four of them [battled] for the lead - but those son of a guns didn't come back to us."

, who finished second and third behind Malibu Moonshine in the one-mile Miracle Wood on Feb. 5, are back to take another crack at him. Trainer Richard Small said he expects an improved performance from Legal Control, who breaks from post 10, after a troubled start in the Miracle Wood.

"Last time out he kind of got tangled up, missed the break, and was bumped around," Small said. "I feel good about the outside post for Saturday."

The two best last-out Beyer Speed Figures belong to stretch-out sprinter Flaminsun and the Philadelphia Park-based Touched by Madness.

, after posting Beyers of 48 and 58 in his first two career starts, soared to a 91 when he crushed 10 rivals going 5 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 16. He has worked three bullets since then in preparation for his first route.

Trainer Joe Devereux said he believes Flaminsun's dramatic improvement was the result of his fondness for mud. With rain forecast for Friday night, Flaminsun may catch a wet track again Saturday.

Touched by Madness earned an 88 Beyer for his 6 3/4-length win going a mile and 70 yards in a first-level allowance at Philadelphia Park.

Monster Chaser will race beyond six furlongs for only the second time. In his previous route, he finished a good second to Legal Control in the Maryland Juvenile Championship.