BALTIMORE, OCT. 12 -- They sat in the Members Club at Pimlico today, plates of chicken wings and crabcakes before them, watching the races with casual interest. "We ride the same way," jockey Marat Kojomzharov said. "We even run in the same direction. But we never use a whip on 2-year-olds because of the preservation of animals. On younger horses, the whip is forbidden."

Kojomzharov is one of five Soviets who arrived in Maryland Sunday to prepare for the $750,000 Washington, D.C. International, Laurel Race Course's 1 1/4-mile turf classic Oct. 31. They traveled with two 3-year-old colts: Gjatsk, whom trainer Nikolai Nasibov said likely would start in the International, and Star, who would run if Gjatsk became ill or injured.

"We sent our two best," said Nasibov, who spoke through an interpreter along with his colleagues: Kojomzharov, backup jockey Aleksandr Chyguyevets, ministry of agriculture director Nikolai Makin and breeder Vladimir Shabunin.

Nasibov had a different vantage point the last time a Soviet horse raced in the International. It was 1966, and Nasibov, then 36 and riding in his eighth International, had 5-year-old Aniline in front until midstretch, when he was overtaken by the French entry Behistoun. Aniline finished second.

Gjatsk, Nasibov said, "is probably a few seconds behind Aniline."

Unlike in many European countries, races in the Soviet Union are run almost exclusively on dirt. Nasibov said he would like to work the horses at least four times on grass before the International; neither colt has even trained on grass. Gjatsk and Star will remain in Laurel's quarantine barn through Tuesday, then work out Wednesday morning. In their lastest workout, Nasibov said, the colts went 1,200 meters -- six furlongs -- in 1 minute 15 seconds.

"If all goes well with Gjatsk, and he runs in the International, we would consider running Star in another race," Nasibov said. "Who knows? We might even use an American jockey on him."

According to Nasibov, Gjatsk has won three of five races and about $10,000. In his last start, the 1 1/4-mile Berlin International race for socialist countries in Moscow Aug. 30, Gjatsk finished second on a muddy track, about a length behind Star.

Nasibov said the long wait between International appearances was not of Soviet design. "It wasn't because of our reasons that we had a {21}-year break," he said, "it was the Americans'. The Americans only asked for one horse; they didn't allow us to bring two horses."

Last year, Laurel owner Frank De Francis altered the International format, creating a two-tier purse system and reserving the right to invite three horses. A victory will be worth $450,000 to a nominated horse, $240,000 to an invitee. However, all expenses are paid for those invited. De Francis also invited Polish 3-year-old Omen, but has not announced the final invitee.

Makin said the ministry of agriculture endorsed this trip, and Nasibov wants to make the most of it. "We'd like to see some of the great farms and stallions of America," he said. "Who knows when we'll get the chance again?"