05/15/2003 12:00AM

Steve Klein's Preakness Analysis


Sixteen of the last 17 Preakness winners ran in the Kentucky Derby. That trend is likely to continue this year, since the Preakness starters who did not compete in the Derby don't look like world-beaters.

The four Derby runners returning in the Preakness are Derby winner Funny Cide, third-place finisher Peace Rules, eighth-place Ten Cents a Shine, and Scrimshaw, who was 11th. Most handicappers will be quick to narrow that list down to Funny Cide and Peace Rules. But where is the betting value to be found by choosing between that pair?

After finishing within a half-length of Derby favorite Empire Maker in the Wood, Funny Cide was a bargain at 12-1 in the Derby. That was the right time to embrace him. But Funny Cide is a household name now, and won't offer anything close to that $27.60 payoff. At much lower odds, his possible weaknesses are harder to overlook. The primary one is that he enjoyed a near-perfect trip, but still saw his Beyer for that victory drop for the first time, following consecutive 12- and 11-point gains.

If Funny Cide runs his race in the Preakness, he is the most likely winner. Nevertheless, the possibility that he is due for regression also deserves to be considered.

Although the raw fractions in the Derby suggest that Peace Rules was battling through a quick pace, when the track variant is factored in I rate the fractions as being close to par for the race, and not nearly as taxing as the splits he set on a Keeneland oval that was playing much slower on Blue Grass Day. The late fade by Peace Rules in the Derby, despite par fractions, might be a sign of vulnerability. After four straight wins and a tiring third in Louisville, his form could be over the top. With limited upside potential at low odds, he has the look of an underlaid contender.

If there is any betting value to be found in the Preakness, the most interesting candidate is Ten Cents a Shine. He began his career with a maiden special win at first asking and a fast-closing second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in only his second career start. Although his form tailed off in three straight races starting with the Fountain of Youth, he trained swiftly, then ran a much-improved race finishing in midpack in the Derby, a respectable 7 1/2 lengths behind Funny Cide, despite losing ground with a 10-wide rally turning for home. Ten Cents a Shine continued to impress in his works with a 46-second breeze May 13. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas plans to have him sitting within striking position of what figures to be a solid pace, which figures to give him a better trip.

He will offer attractive odds, so I'll bet him to win and in the exotics.

Kissin Saint, who finished third behind Empire Maker and Funny Cide in the Wood, was flattered by the Derby result, and deserves consideration in the exotics. Senor Swinger will pass some tiring speed down the lane and should get a part. Scrimshaw, who is coupled in the betting with Senor Swinger, folded down the lane in the Derby while failing to impress, so I'll pass.