Trainer Jim Woods has a hearing before Delaware Park officials Sunday to explain why he violated racing rules by removing a horse from a race only minutes before post time and against orders by the stewards.

Woods, who operates a six-horse stable out of the Bowie Training Center, entered Splendid Catch in a $5,000 claiming race Monday at the Stanton, Del., track. Splendid Catch was the early favorite, having won a $12,000 claiming race at Pimlico the previous month.

Fritz Burkhardt, a Delaware Park steward, said the stewards suspected something was amiss during the post parade when Woods "ran out on the racetrack" to speak to a state veterinarian and apprentice jockey Clinton Potts, who was aboard Splendid Catch. Woods then ran back to the paddock, Burkhardt said.

Woods and Potts attempted to have Splendid Catch withdrawn by saying the horse was unsound, according to Burkhardt. After Splendid Catch was determined sound enough during the warm-up, Potts refused to ride, then brought the horse to the paddock for a replacement jockey.

Pedro Garcia entered the paddock, but he never got atop Splendid Catch, as Woods spurned the stewards and removed his horse from the race. He walked Splendid Catch out of the paddock, down a path, past the racing secretary's office, through an exit gate and into the parking lot, where his horse trailer was waiting. Woods returned to the paddock alone to retrieve some equipment, then went back to the van and drove away. He was still on track grounds when authorities apprehended him and took him to the stewards. By then the race had been run, meaning that all wagers involving Splendid Catch had to be refunded.

To complicate matters, there was one claim in for Splendid Catch, which was voided when the horse failed to start, Burkhardt said.

The stewards would not discuss their position but said the development is unprecedented in Delaware. Woods said he will not have a lawyer at Sunday's scheduled hearing.

Woods, in his fourth year as a trainer, said he and the horse's owners were predisposed to losing Splendid Catch through a claim given the sharp drop in claiming price. According to Woods, Splendid Catch has "only one or two {races} left in him" because of leg problems.

Woods said that while Splendid Catch was being saddled he told co-owner Eddie Mason that a claim had been entered. According to Woods, Mason's young son became distraught at the prospect of losing the horse.

"When that little kid started crying, it set me off," he said. "Most of the time, I'm a very rational person, but when I went onto the track it was like I was on a mission; I had to accomplish it. The adrenaline was pumping."

Woods said the removal of Splendid Catch was not premeditated. "There was no plan," he said. "It was spur-of-the-moment. When you get right down to it, I needed him to run to make money for Jim Woods. But at that time, I wasn't worried about me.

"I wasn't trying to injure racing's reputation at all. It's just something that happened. I know I'm going to have to pay the consequences."

Through September, Woods's horses had won 25 of 67 races this year for a 37.3 winning percentage, among the highest in the country. His best runner, Bolting Holme, is tied for second nationally with 10 victories this year.

"For about 15 minutes of insanity, I'm probably going to blow all the good I've accomplished this year," Woods said. "I'd like to have those 15 minutes back -- I'd run the horse." Prado Hospitalized

Edgar Prado, Laurel's leading rider, was at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore yesterday because of kidney stones. Agent Steve Rushing said Prado might resume riding this weekend.