03/03/2005 1:00AM

Turnback trio at Laurel


This is the time of year when trainers of Triple Crown nominees are eager to see whether their 3-year-olds can be effective stretching out around two turns.

Ed Gaudet, Jennifer Pedersen, and Ben Perkins Jr., however, are doing just the opposite with Monster Chaser, Daddy Joe, and Diamond Wildcat.

, second against stakes company in his only previous two-turn attempt, along with Daddy Joe and Diamond Wildcat, two-turn winners against lesser company, all will cut back to six furlongs for Saturday's $50,000 Horatius at Laurel Park. The Horatius is also the first leg of the Magna 5.

In the first seven starts of his career, Monster Chaser was strictly a sprinter, winning one restricted stakes and finishing second in two other stakes. He showed he might also be good going long in the Maryland Juvenile Championship, finishing second, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, on Dec. 31.

Monster Chaser's first start at 3 has been delayed by a minor injury, which necessitated a scratch the last time he was entered.

"He's a real tough kind to handle," Gaudet said. "He rears up a lot, and last time on the eve of the race he reared up on his groom, hit a wall, and banged up his knee and ankle. We X-rayed him and he came back clean, so we gave him extra time to let the swelling go down."

won his maiden around two turns over Aqueduct's inner track and looked good winning his 3-year-old debut going seven furlongs at Laurel in late January. Two weeks later, Daddy Joe had to steady at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway, his first appearance in a stakes.

also passed his initial two-turn test in a first-level allowance at Aqueduct in January, but pressed the early pace and faded badly in the Whirlaway. He is well suited to six furlongs, since his dam, Diamonds and Legs, and sire, Forest Wildcat, were both stakes-winning sprinters.

Distinctive Trick is the probable favorite after winning the six-furlong Fred Capossela as the longest shot in a six-horse field two weeks ago at Aqueduct. His 84 Beyer Figure is the best sprint number in the field of 10.

Timely Impulse, an easy winner in his career debut at Pimlico in December, was second in the six-furlong Dancing Count on New Year's Day in his only other start.