Just before the opening of Saratoga Race Course back in July, trainer Bobby Barbara was facing a hard fact. He didn’t think he had horses that could compete at racing’s most prestigious meet.

But his meet was salvaged by the sudden wake-up of Elliot Mavorah’s Interpatation. While the 6-year-old Langfuhr gelding has yet to win in seven starts this year, at Saratoga he ran third to Grand Couturier in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational, came back to run third at Philadelphia Park, and then ran second in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational to runaway winner Grand Couturier.

Grand Couturier is at Santa Anita, where he will compete in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. Interpatation, meanwhile, will be at Belmont Park with a more than reasonable chance of getting his first win of the season in the 49th running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Knickerbocker Handicap for three-year-olds and up at nine furlongs on the inner turf course.

The Knickerbocker will be one of two graded stakes on Saturday’s seven-race card, which will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern. The other attraction will be the 56th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sport Page Handicap for three-year-olds at up at seven furlongs on the main track.

Belmont Park will then offer complete simulcast wagering on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, with first race post for the Marathon at 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Fans can advance wager on Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races at Belmont Park on Friday afternoon.

Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 25. Voucher sellers and self-service windows will be open beginning at 10:30 a.m. on the first floor grandstand and second floor clubhouse. At 11:30 a.m., a few live tellers will be available in the same areas.

Interpatation’s summer races against top quality horses could easily translate into a victory on Saturday. Last year, after running third to eventual Turf champion English Channel, Interpatation ran last in the nine-horse Knickerbocker, which was held at Aqueduct.

Aqueduct’s turf course was extremely soft that day – not quite the bog it was at Monmouth Park for the Breeders’ Cup – and even with some rain forecast, Interpatation should have more solid footing on Saturday.

Graded stakes winner Proudinsky, a German-bred son of Silvano, also appears to prefer firmer footing. After coming within a neck of defeating retired Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Big Brown in the Monmouth Stakes on September 13, he finished a distant fifth in the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

“They tell me he’s doing really good,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who is minding his Breeders’ Cup horses in California. “He’s a nice horse and I think that last race at a mile and a half was too long for him. The Knickerbocker will be a better fit, so we're going to take a shot."

There were only six horses entered in the 2007 Knickerbocker and Dion A. Recachina’s Operation Red Dawn had to alter course in the stretch. The Miswaki gelding was necked for place by Thorn Song, who was beaten a lengthy by victorious Fishy Advice.

A Grade 2 winner on dirt, Carol Nyren’s Dry Martini has made only two turf starts in his 18-race career. His most recent was here on October 2, when he ran second to German-bred Formal Decree by a length and a quarter over a yielding course at the Knickerbocker distance. Both Dry Martini, trained by Billy Turner, and Formal Decree, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, are entered for the Knickerbocker Handicap.

The field for Saturday’s 49th running of the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap

PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1 Formal Decree (GER) Saeed bin Suroor Jean-Luc Samyn 115
2 Drum Major George Weaver Joe Bravo 115
3 Operation Red Dawn Christophe Clement Rajiv Maragh 115
4 Interpatation Robert Barbara Jose Espinoza 116
5 Buffalo Man Cam Gambolati Eddie Castro 117
6 Giant Wrecker Anthony Dutrow Jose Lezcano 115
7 Proudinsky (GER) Robert Frankel Mike Luzzi 118
8 Dry Martini William H. Turner Jr. Channing Hill 114
9 Strike a Deal Alan Goldberg C.C. Lopez 118