THE FIRST SATURDAY in May has always belonged to horse racing. Next year, though, the ponies might have to share the spotlight.

Though actual dates are not firm, the 2010 NFL draft is scheduled for early May. If the league maintains its traditional time frame of conducting the draft 12 weeks after the Super Bowl, the draft would be held May 1-2. The Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in racing's Triple Crown, is Saturday, May 1.

"It's a function of the way the calendar falls," pointed out Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations. "The Super Bowl is late this year . . . February 7, 2010.

"We are currently listing next year's draft as 'early May.' We have not set the specific dates yet."

The league also is exploring the expansion of the regular season from 16 games to 18. All indications, however, are that two of the four exhibition games would be eliminated, thus leaving the length of the 20-week season intact.

Giant halitosis

If Brandon Jacobs' family is still hunting for a Father's Day gift, may we suggest a large bottle of Listerine?

The running back was asked whether last year's divisional playoff game loss at home to the Eagles left a lingering taste in the Giants' collective mouths.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "We have a very bitter, bad, disgusting taste. It hurts more than anything. We know how good we were last year and the opportunity we had in front of us. We did not take advantage of it the way we were supposed to."

The Eagles' defense stuffed Eli Manning and Jacobs on consecutive fourth-quarter fourth downs as the Birds pulled the 23-11 upset of the top-seeded Giants.

"We have another crack at it [this year] and I think we are going to have the same kind of season," Jacobs continued. "I think we are going to go a little bit further." *

- Ed Barkowitz