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The Best in the Rest

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Note: Each horse's program number -- which you need to use at the betting window -- is listed in in parentheses.

1st Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

Finchs Mill raced last at Delaware Park and didn't like the track. Now he's back at a course he loves and should resume his winning ways. Palace Blues switches to Kent Desormeaux -- a top jockey who made his fame in Maryland -- and should get second, with Mugged at the Mine third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Expect My Brothers Pals to sprint out to a big lead, chased by Dorset Woods and LoveontheRun. Palace Blues and Finchs Mill should be stalking behind them and, as the leaders fade, those two should surge to the front entering the stretch. My Boy C K will make a late charge, but it probably won't be enough.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Finchs Mill (1).

Risk taker: $5 exacta box of Finchs Mill (1) and Palace Blues (9). Total bet $10.

Sun long shot: A horse loose on the lead, as My Brothers Pals (2) will be, is always dangerous.

2nd Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

Any horse that wins its first race, as December Thunder did, deserves respect. But this filly was even more impressive because she lost the lead in the stretch, then gamely dug in to take it back. Kate M. should be second, with Amber Comet third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Pulverizingassault should be battling for the early lead in this race with Amber Comet and Kate M. December Thunder will be just behind them, waiting to make her big move on the turn for home. The late runner ought to be Fourth Quest.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: Since December Thunder (7) will be favored, bet $2 to win on Kate M. (2) to get a better price, or play a $2 exacta of December Thunder (7) over Kate M. (2).

Risk taker: $20 to win on December Thunder (7).

Sun long shot: If the duel for the lead in this race gets too hot, that could set the race up for the late charge of Fourth Quest (4).

3rd Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

This race will be run on the grass course, and that kind of racing is a specialty. Few in Maryland are better at it than trainer Barclay Tagg, whose colt Valley of the Moon won the first time he raced over the turf and should do so again. Brechin City also won his first start on the grass and should be there for second, with Battle On third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Four Fifty Five should be the early leader, with Valley of the Moon sitting right behind him. Most of the others are late runners who should be spread out behind them, setting up a cavalry charge for the wire as Four Fifty Five drops back and Valley of the Moon moves to the front.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Valley of the Moon (5).

Risk taker: $5 exacta box of Valley of the Moon (5) and Brechin City (4). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: Among those making a huge late run will be Val de Val (9), who might get there.

4th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

What You Say turned in a powerful race the first time he moved from a sprint to a distance race, and appears ready to win another. It won't hurt that he switches to hot jockey Desormeaux. Verse of the Irish and Bimkin should complete the order of finish.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

There ought to be a battle royale for the lead in this one, between Afternoon Sun, Nashman and Really Irish. Bimkin, Gentleman Caller and What You Say will get good stalking position and be ready to take over when the speedsters tire. Verse of the Irish will make his big move from farther back.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bet: $2 to win on What You Say (8).

Risk Taker: $5 exacta box of What You Say (8) and Verse of the Irish (2). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: Gentleman Caller (3) has never run a bad race and would pay a decent price.

5th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

This race presents the day's best bet. Ecton Park has faced the world's toughest horses and shouldn't have any trouble with these. Get Away With It has the great jockey Jerry Bailey and is a strong choice for second. Eastern Daydream, owned and trained by the same Maryland team that handled the legendary Spectacular Bid, should hang on for third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Eastern Daydream and Crosspatch will take the early lead, with The Groom is Red in behind them and Ecton Park and Get Away With It farther back. By the time they turn for home, Ecton Park and Get Away With It will be making strong moves that ought to carry them to the front late in the stretch.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 exacta of Ecton Park (5) over Get Away With It (4).

Risk taker: $20 exacta of Ecton Park (5) over Get Away With it (4).

Sun long shot: Crosspatch (2) loves Pimlico and will pay big if he can hang on to the lead.

6th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

Tim's Crossing is an outstanding horse who had everything go wrong last time out. He ought to return to winning form today. Sun Cat is trained by one of the game's best, D. Wayne Lukas, and figures to be close. Grundlefoot is the choice for third. His trainer, Gary Capuano, did a great job on the Triple Crown trail in 1997 with Captain Bodgit.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Tim's Crossing ought to get the lead over Sun Cat, with Broken Vow and Valiant Halory in the second flight. The early leaders should be pulling away in the stretch as Grundlefoot and Inner Harbour launch their bids from the back of the pack.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Tim's Crossing (1).

Risk taker: $5 exacta box of Tim's Crossing (1) and Grundlefoot (4). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: Inner Harbour (7) is a nice horse who could win with his best race.

7th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

This is another race on the grass course, and in this case, the turf specialist is Quiet Resolve. His sire is Affirmed, the last winner of the Triple Crown, whose sons and daughters love to run on grass. Two others experienced on the turf -- Royal Strand and Haami -- should complete the top three.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Private Slip and Garbu will battle for the lead, with Haami, Royal Strand and Quiet Resolve biding their time behind them until they rush to the front turning for home. Buenos Dias and Chronicle S. should be making the strongest moves late.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Quiet Resolve (2).

Risk taker: $5 exacta box of Quiet Resolve (2) and Royal Strand (3). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: Buenos Dias (4) has never lost on the grass, and may rise to the challenge as the day's most promising long shot.

8th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

This race sets up perfectly for Roza Robata to sit behind a speed duel and sweep past tiring horses on the way to victory. With Flair should run a similar race and be right there with Roza Robata. Bella Chiarra, the strongest of the speed horses, should hang on for third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Expect an all-out duel for the lead between Silent Eskimo, Bella Chiarra and Unbridled Lady. Roza Robata, With Flair, Baste and On a Soapbox will be the stalkers. Roza and Flair should be in front when the serious running starts in the stretch. Proud Owner will trail the field early, but make a huge late run.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Roza Robata (2)

Risk taker: $5 exactas of Roza Robata (2) over With Flair (4) and Roza Robata (2) over On a Soapbox (7). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: Proud Owner (1), trained by Richard W. Small, who handled the great Maryland horse Broad Brush, has a chance at a price.

9th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

Pimlico is famous for favoring horses that get the lead. Balancethebudget is one who ought to be able to lead every step of the way, with Grand Hope running second and Moon Over Prospect third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Balancethebudget should be all alone out in front. Close behind will be Grand Hope and Yes It's True, who won this race last year but has been badly off form. Moon Over Prospect and Say Florida Sandy should be in the next flight of horses, with Memory Tap making his bid from the back of the pack.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Balancethebudget (2).

Risk taker: $2 exacta box of Balancethebudget (2), Moon Over Prospect (6) and Memory Tap (3). Total bet: $12.

Sun long shot: Moon Over Prospect (6) worked sharply for this race and would pay handsomely.

11th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

Katie Voss, an excellent trainer, always seems to have a horse primed to win on Preakness day. This year it's Greyhound, who should be able to wait behind the early speedsters and surge past them in the stretch. Over to You should get second and Tickle Me Red third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Tickle Me Red, Stream Crossing and Phabulous Code should go to the lead early, with Greyhound and Over to You stalking them. The late running should be done by He's My Buckaroo and Dixie Recital, though neither figures to have enough punch to get in the money.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Greyhound (1).

Risk taker: $2 trifecta box of Greyhound (1), Over to You (6) and Tickle Me Red (7). Total bet: $12.

Sun long shot: If Phabulous Code (9) shakes loose on the lead, he could get brave and pay a big price.

12th Race

WHO SHOULD WIN

The early speed duel likely in this race sets things up perfectly for the charge of Incased in Gold. Shesaid has the best chance among the speedsters to hang on for second, with Ticket to Tokyo clinging to third.

HOW THEY'LL RUN

Ticket to Tokyo, Sofie's Attitude, Shesaid and Meadow Romp all want the lead and should be sprinting for it when the gates open. Incased in Gold will sit behind them until it's time to swoop by. Verse Ten will make a big run late.

WHAT TO BET

$2 bettor: $2 to win on Incased in Gold (3)

Risk taker: $5 exactas of Incased in Gold (3) over Shesaid (7) and Incased in Gold (3) over Ticket to Tokyo (2). Total bet: $10.

Sun long shot: With this much speed in the race, a closer like Verse Ten (1) has a shot.

Compiled by Stephen R. Proctor, a Sun editor, in consultation with two handicapping cohorts: John E. Salzman Jr., who works as a jockey's agent in Maryland, and Jorge Turcios, who is known by Laurel and Pimlico regulars as an astute student of the game.

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