08/23/2004 12:00AM

Rivalry continues in Albany

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - For those keeping score, West Virginia has beaten Chowder's First twice in stakes. When they last met, Chowder's First was a neck winner over West Virginia in the Cab Calloway on Aug. 4.

face each other in Wednesday's $150,000-added Albany at Saratoga. The Albany is the final leg of OTBs' Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds.

The 12-horse field for the 1 1/8-mile Albany also includes Don Corleone, who won the second leg of the Big Apple Triple, the New York Derby, at Finger Lakes on July 17.

Chowder's First and West Virginia share the highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field with the 94 they each earned in the Cab Calloway.

Heading into the Cab Calloway, Chowder's First was coming off a ninth in the New York Derby.

"We were hoping it was just the Finger Lakes surface," said Phil Serpe, Chowder's First's trainer. "It was a big relief for us to see him put in such a race in the Cab Calloway. He has been good since then, and we're ready to go back out there."

Chowder's First, who will be ridden by Edgar Prado, drew post 12, a tough post for the fairly short run into the first turn.

West Virginia had the lead in the stretch of the Cab Calloway, but was run down by Chowder's First. A multiple stakes winner, West Virginia has not won beyond 1 1/16 miles.

"He ran his race and ran well," said Todd Pletcher, who trains West Virginia. "We really had no excuses. One horse ran better than we did."

Several horses in the field look capable of defeating Chowder's First and West Virginia.

Work With Me has proven extremely versatile, winning by open lengths while sprinting and in a two-turn race here Aug. 9.

Work With Me's trainer, Mike Gorham, was pleased with his 5 1/2-length win Aug. 9.

Seven Came Eleven made up a ton of ground to finish second in the New York Derby, a neck behind Don Corleone, and has worked well since.

Dont Knock America is coming off back-to-back wins, including an allowance race here July 29.