03/03/2005 12:00AM

Stymie matchup:Youth vs. experience

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Song of the Sword and Salic Law, a couple of talented 4-year-olds, step up to tackle veteran stakes runners for the first time in the $75,000-added Stymie Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct.

The youngest runners in the seven-horse field, both Song of the Sword and Salic Law carry 114 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Stymie, which will be run over the inner track.

hit the Triple Crown trail last spring and ran second in the Illinois Derby and third in the Lexington Stakes. It got tougher at the next level, where Song of the Sword ran 11th in the Kentucky Derby, ninth in the Preakness, and seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby.

"We always felt he was a top colt," said Jennifer Pedersen, trainer for the Paraneck Stable, which owns Song of the Sword. "He's just more mature now. I wish he had that maturity last spring."

Song of the Sword hit the comeback trail in December at Aqueduct with a win and a second in a pair of allowance races. He came down with what Pedersen called a "severe respiratory infection and a high fever" only a few days after the Dec. 19 victory.

Song of the Sword has recovered and "always runs well fresh," said Pedersen.

has a history of being reluctant at the starting gate, but he seems to have outgrown those problems. His recent impressive allowance wins at the Big A suggest he is ready to try a stakes.

"He's been running very well," said trainer Tom Albertrani. "We've brought him along slowly, and now we're moving him up the ladder. This is a bit of a jump into the deep end."

is one of the sharks swimming in this pool. The 6-year-old carries high weight of 122 pounds in search of his 13th career win. He has earned more than $700,000 and is sent out by Richard Dutrow Jr., the meet's leading trainer. Aggadan has not finished worse than second in his last eight races.

Aggadan won consecutive statebred stakes in Maryland before returning to the Big A for the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 30. Aggadan pressed the pace throughout the hotly contested 1 1/16-mile race and held off all challengers except late-running longshot Country Be Gold, who returns for a rematch.

Country Be Gold, 22-1 last time, comes next on the Stymie scale at 116 pounds. The other five runners all carry 114.

Hydrogen ran third last time out after setting a contested pace in the Big A's Gallant Fox Handicap, a 1 5/8-mile marathon in late December.

Halo Malone and Rogue Agent complete the field.