05/23/2001 11:00PM

Three in Brandywine pray for rain


According to the advance weather forecast for the East Coast, the Memorial Day weekend is more likely to be soggy than sunny. Rainy weather may be bad news for those planning on going to the beach, but sloppy conditions will enhance the chances of three contenders in Saturday's $75,000 Brandywine Stakes at Delaware Park.

Liberty Gold, Toddler, and Pine Dance are a collective 8 for 16 over wet surfaces, so their connections should be smiling if the track is sloppy or muddy for the one-mile Brandywine, which drew a field of 10, plus three also-eligibles.

Of the group, Liberty Gold and Pine Dance have been keeping the classiest company and deserve respect on that factor alone.

The 7-year-old Liberty Gold, trained by Rusty Arnold, most recently chased one of the country's best sprinters, Alannan, in a pair of Grade 2 races in Kentucky. In his last start over a wet track, Liberty Gold scored by 2 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap in New York, a win worth a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Pine Dance has enjoyed almost all of his success on the turf and is 0 for 5 on fast tracks. But in his only race in the slop, Pine Dance produced a decisive win and a career-best 105 Beyer in last year's Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.

Toddler, a 4-year-old from the barn of Todd Pletcher, has raced in the mud at Aqueduct in each of his last three starts and won them all, earning a personal best 106 Beyer in his most recent race, the Kings Point Handicap on April 1.


Weather permitting, 11 older sprinters will contest the $50,000

C. Edmund O'Brien Stakes on Pimlico's turf course.

Strangely, for a race that's just five furlongs, most of the runners don't possess much early speed. The two exceptions are Rudirudy and Governor's Pride.

Rudirudy, a 6-year-old with a turf sprint record of 5-4-1 in 12 starts, stumbled at the start of his only race this season and was never in contention. A recent four-furlong bullet from the gate would seem to indicate his one poor break might have been a fluke.

Governor's Pride, a pure speedball from the barn of Tim Ritchey, has won 6 of 11 lifetime starts - all by leading wire to wire. With a 2-for-2 record on wet tracks, he's also the logical choice if the race is moved from turf to dirt.