12/31/2007 1:00AM

Scrappy T ready for comeback

EmailPatience, says Marshall Dowell, is his favorite word. He has certainly proven that with the time and money he has put into getting Scrappy T back to the races.

The now 6-year-old Scrappy T, runner-up in the 2005 Preakness, is scheduled to make his first start in more than two years in Wednesday's eighth race at Laurel Park.

Although he is part of a coupled entry with Mint Slewlep, a Dowell-owned 4-year-old with a perfect 3-for-3 record at Laurel, Scrappy T is the horse Dowell intends to run in the seven-furlong race that is open to third-level allowance horses and $32,000 claimers. According to Dowell, Mint Slewlep will run only if an unforeseen illness or injury prevents Scrappy T from making his first start since he finished sixth in the Cigar Mile on Nov. 26, 2005.

At 3, Scrappy T won the Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and took the lead heading into the stretch of the Preakness when he veered sharply to his right. As a result, Afleet Alex clipped heels and nearly went to his knees, but remarkably recovered from the near disaster and ran down Scrappy T in deep stretch.

Scrappy T missed four months with a back problem following that race, a physical ailment that reoccured when he was prepping for his 4-year-old debut in early 2006. A nagging suspensory injury put Scrappy T's racing career in jeopardy, but Dowell was determined to do whatever it took to help the gelding regain his health.

"I never lost my patience with the horse," said Dowell, who named Scrappy T after his grandson, Tanner. "He's brought me so many thrills. I have a lot of people to thank for the job they've done with him. All I had to do was show patience and pay the bills."

Scrappy T made two trips to Hub Johnson's Kesmark Rehab Center in Kentucky and spent time rehabilitating at River Rock Farm in Fort Deposit, Md., run by Charlie Brown.

Dowell said he and trainer Rob Bailes are encouraged by Scrappy T's recent workouts at the Bowie Training Center.

"He's been training exceptionally well," Dowell said. "Mario Pino has been up on him the last couple of times. I'm really excited about this race. We wanted to find a spot for him that wouldn't be as tough as a stakes."

If all goes well, Scrappy T could be pointed to the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel in February or a stakes at Aqueduct.