05/12/2004 12:00AM

Wando stuck in post 12 for Dixie

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BALTIMORE - Wando will be on the outside looking in when he breaks from post 12 in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Argent Dixie Handicap at Pimlico.

The Dixie, run at nine furlongs on the turf, is one of seven undercard stakes on Saturday's 13-race Preakness card at Pimlico. First post is 10:45 a.m. Eastern.

, last year's Canadian Triple Crown winner, is coming off a solid allowance victory on turf at Keeneland on April 18. Overall, Wando is 2 for 4 on turf, including a victory in the Breeders' Stakes - the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown - at 12 furlongs.

, who finished fifth in last year's Preakness, appears to have found his niche on the grass. Three of his 5 career wins have come on the turf, including the San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita in February and a fourth-level allowance win at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Pat Day, a four-time winner of this race, rides from post 2.

Trainer Graham Motion won this race last year with Dr. Brendler, the longest shot in the field. This year, Motion sends out Better Talk Now, who won last year's Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct.

Warleigh, the John Connally Breeders' Cup Handicap winner; Herculated, the runner-up in the Mervin Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds; Millennium Dragon, the Appleton Handicap winner; and Silver Tree, last year's Virginia Derby winner, are the other major contenders in the field.

Baffert seeks consolation prize

Trainer Bob Baffert did not have a horse in the Kentucky Derby, and won't have a runner in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, either. The chances of him having a horse in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the June 5 Belmont Stakes, might hinge on the performance of Preachinatthebar in Saturday's $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes.

Preachinatthebar at one time was a contender for the Derby, but he was pulled from consideration after a subpar workout nine days before the race. That followed a dreadful, seventh-place performance in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Baffert is hoping Preachinatthebar can return to his best form, a victory in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 14.

Preachinatthebar is by Silver Charm, who won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 1997 before finishing third in that year's Belmont Stakes. He is owned by Mike Pegram, whose colt Real Quiet won the Derby and Preakness in 1998, then lost a narrow decision in the Belmont when attempting to capture the Triple Crown.

The last horse to parlay a victory in the Sir Barton into a win in the Belmont was Sarava in 2002.

Preachinatthebar landed the outside post in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton. He has nine rivals. They include Humorously, who was second in the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park last month, and Royal Assault, who finished fifth most recently in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Graded stakes attractive betting races

Three Grade 3 handicaps are carded Saturday, and all three should prove good betting races.

The $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap, which directly precedes the Preakness as the 11th race, drew 10 older sprinters, led by Soaring Free, the 121-pound highweight, and a sharp recent winner at Keeneland.

The $100,000 W.D. Schaefer Handicap (race 8) drew an interesting cross-entry from trainer Elliott Walden: Ole Faunty, who also was entered Friday in the Pimlico Special. If Ole Faunty runs Saturday, he will do so as the 119-pound highweight and likely favorite in a field of 11 older horses; if he doesn't, then Seattle Fitz could be a slight choice in a deep cast.

The $100,000 Gallorette Handicap (race 5), the first of the day's stakes, drew several graded winners among a field of 10 fillies and mares, including Caught in the Rain, Ocean Drive, and Grade 1 winner Film Maker.

Bwana Charlie seeks rebound

Bwana Charlie will seek to rebound from a disappointing third-place finish in the Derby Trial when he heads a 11-horse field entered in Saturday's $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

Two starts back, Bwana Charlie won the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland.

Redskin Warrior cuts back to his preferred distance of six furlongs after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Gotham. Wild Wildcat, Bound for Victory, and Penn Pacific are all undefeated colts making their stakes debut.

Timo heads full field

Timo, considered by some the second-best 3-year-old turf horse in the country behind Kitten's Joy, heads a full field of 14 entered in the day's $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Timo won the Pilgrim and Mecke stakes as a 2-year-old. He rebounded from a troubled trip in the Tropical Park Derby in January to win the Transylvania last month at Keeneland. Edgar Prado will ride Timo, the 122-pound highweight, from post 5.

Artie Schiller and Urban Warrior look to be the main threats to Timo.

LaPenta buying time

Robert LaPenta, the owner of The Cliff's Edge, said he considered scratching his horse from the Kentucky Derby after a heavy rainstorm turned the track into a sea of slop. Because it was the Derby, LaPenta did not scratch, and The Cliff's Edge finished fifth.

The Cliff's Edge lost both front shoes in the Derby. He appeared to have come out of the race relatively unscathed, but on Wednesday morning he was diagnosed with a bruised right front foot. LaPenta paid the $10,000 entry fee to put The Cliff's Edge in the Preakness, but said "if he isn't 100 percent, he's not going to be on the track and we'll wait for the Belmont."

"I wanted to the buy the extra three days," LaPenta said from his office in New York. "You don't get a lot of opportunities to run in the Preakness, and I wasn't keeping any horse out of the race. The only downside is my own."

Song of the Sword back again

Song of the Sword, who finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby, was a late addition to the Preakness field, making this his fourth race in six weeks.

Trainer Jennifer Pedersen said that Song of the Sword has yet to put out a full effort in any of his races, which is why it is easy for her to run him back so quickly. She said Song of the Sword ran spottily in the Derby.

"Out of the Derby he really didn't lose any weight, and in that way we were very pleased and we're able to run him back," Pedersen said.

Jorge Chavez will ride Song of the Sword in the Preakness, replacing Norberto Arroyo Jr. Pedersen said she and owner Ernie Paragallo wanted "a more aggressive rider."

Rare no-show for Lukas

For the first time since 1979, D. Wayne Lukas will not be at Pimlico for the Preakness. Including 1980, when Lukas won the Preakness with Codex, his first starter in a Triple Crown race, he has had a Preakness starter in 20 of the last 24 runnings.

"But I've actually been there to watch every year since 1980, because I've had horses running in some of the undercard races there," Lukas said Wednesday from Churchill Downs. "I'll miss being up there Saturday, but I'll stay busy back here."

A pair of guaranteed pick fours

Pimlico will offer two guaranteed pick four bets on the 13-race Preakness card, and both will have a 14 percent takeout.

A $750,000-guaranteed pick four will start with race 9, the Sir Barton Stakes, and end with the Preakness, the 12th race on the card. An earlier $200,000-guaranteed pick four will link races 4 through 7.

Additionally, a special daily double will link Friday's Pimlico Special, a Grade 1 handicap race, with the Preakness on Saturday.

Rolling pick threes, with a takeout of 25.75 percent, will be available throughout Saturday's card, beginning with the second race. Rolling daily doubles will be offered throughout the day, on all races.

Takeout on win, place, and show bets at Pimlico is 18 percent. Exacta and daily double bets have a takeout of 21 percent, and trifectas and superfectas have a takeout of 25.75 percent.

Nearly every wagering outlet in the U.S. and Canada is expected to offer the entire Pimlico card, one of the heaviest wagering events of the year. Last year, bettors wagered almost $60 million on the Preakness card.

The exceptions will be online account-wagering companies such as Youbet.com, Television Games Network, and the sites run by AmericaTab. Magna Entertainment Corp., the majority owner of Pimlico, pulled its signals from those companies earlier this year in order to drive business to its own online betting operation, XpressBet.

Magna's decision has created some confusion among account-wagering customers over which companies will be allowed to offer the Pimlico card. Account-wagering companies that offer strictly telephone wagering, such as the New York Racing Association's NYRA One operation, the companies run by New York's off-track betting corporations, and Philadelphia Park's Phonebet, will offer the Preakness, yet Internet betting companies that also have phone betting, such as AmericaTab's Brisnet, will be prohibited from offering the card, even to their telephone customers.

For that reason, account-wagering customers are encouraged to check with their provider about the availability of the Pimlico card before making plans to bet on the Preakness on Saturday.

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty, Marty McGee, and Jay Privman