Saratoga Springs, NY--August 3, 2007

Dear Diary,

Handicappers headed to the East Coasts destination tracks this weekend will find one thing in common: Demon Speed.

Tomorrows Grade 1 Darley Test Stakes at Saratoga for three-year-old fillies has attracted a dozen fast fillies and six of the them would rather be on the lead than be President.

The best of these, of course, is Dream Rush, a filly that has already earned her Grade 1 title by virtue of a comprehensive victory in the Prioress at Belmont Park, July 7.

She probably wouldnt have run in it if it werent a grade one, said her trainer, Rick Violette, earlier this week. But this is the one we want, its an important race, said the horseman having a career year.

Such is the esteem in which the Test is held. In all, seven of the fillies are graded stakes winners and two are graded stakes placed. Of the remaining two, one is undefeated, the other has earned the best performance figure in the field. A true Grade 1, surely.

But the marquee race of the weekend will not be run in the mountains. It will be run at the shore.

Sundays $1 million Grade 1 Haskell at nine furlongs drew a field of eight, including three confirmed speedsters, three pace pressers and two late-rally types, the dynamics almost guaranteeing one hell of a horse race. Not to mention the horses, of course.

Curlin, who many believe is the best three-year-old in America, drew post six and was installed the even-money favorite. Obviously, his record has earned him that role. The race shape will make him a tough out.

Triple Crown rival Hard Spun drew right next to him in the gate at position seven while the very speedy Preakness pace horse, Xchanger, drew the extreme outside that will necessitate a fast start from the barrier.

Hard Spun blew out in a sharp :34 and reunites with Mario Pino, who we believe was somewhat unjustly criticized for his Preakness ride. I didnt see much improvement in the Belmont, dead-panned trainer Larry Jones regarding the woeful rating displayed by Garrett Gomez.

Gomez will ride impressive Dwyer winner Any Given Saturday for Todd Pletcher from post one. Pletcher termed the Dwyer effort a breakthrough performance and seeing certainly was believing. A tactical speedster with kick, he figures to sit a perfect trip saving ground in behind the speed.

The wild card is the undefeated local hero, the 3-for-3 Cable Boy. He will be tested for class with this bunch, obviously, but any horse that can run a mile-and-70-yards in 1:38 3/5 then prep in :57 1/5 for the Haskell should not be dismissed out of hand.

And right in behind the speed and the stalkers will come Curlin, whose stated purpose in addition to the purse is getting a race over the track in preparation for the Breeders Cup Classic in late October. Then will come ralliers Imawildandcrazyguy, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and local runner Reatas Shadow.

One interested observer will be Carl Nafzger, trainer of Street Sense. When queried about Curlin, Nafzger said hes a formidable foe. Nafzger has that on good authority.


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Fifth Race: Unlike the Rumspringa situation earlier in the meet, when refunds were issued after it was determined that horse was in the grasp of an assistant starter, no refunds were ordered when it appeared the same fate had befallen Tobruk. Jockey Johnny Velazquez told the stewards he wasnt sure if he was compromised at the start, yet Tobruk broke with his head cocked left while apparently in the grasp, spotting the field many lengths, his chances virtually eliminated. The Rumspringa scenario has led to a lawsuit involving the principal owner and the NYRA, Steve Sigler alleging that since the assistant starter admitted culpability, via a public apology, the claim of Rumspringa should not have been voided since it was an NYRA employee that was the cause of the horses non-starter status.

The NYRA is classy enough to offer refunds to bettors when incidents like this occur. That is not standard procedure at all racing venues. Apparently the popular clich, in regards to the Rumspringa scenario, is true: No good deed goes unpunished Meanwhile, Kick Up Your Heels won the race at inflated odds beneath a deft Edgar Prado. Eibar Coa tried to drive favorite Tsunamic through a non-existent opening on the fence. Thus far, no suits have been brought against Coa.

First Race: In the end it came down to Tahoe Warrior, who took command soon after entering the straight, and Great Point, who slipped through along the fence in midstretch. That deft move by Julien Leparoux won it for Great Point and trainer Nick Zito.

Second Race: After his antics at headstretch, no question Rebounded was much the best, reaching even terms with another well meant newcomer, Caravel, in mid-stretch before drawing clear. Strike It Ritz finished up nicely for third completing all first-timer trifecta. Not unusual in that its Saratoga; a little strange since it was at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. The other, experienced half of the Pletcher entry (Strike It Ritz) was dismal. But figure Caravel wont be a maiden for long; bet back under similar conditions.

Third Race: Good training job by Steve Asmussen, having Royal Moment ready off a one-year-old absence. And expected, he was, as the 2-1 choice, holding off Bold Mon from the continued live Schosberg shed. It was the winners third victory in four Spa starts.

Fourth Race: Rick Dutrow strikes off the claim with Predate, winning on the raise following a $50,000 claim at Churchill Downs. Predate was so fast leaving there he made the start look bad and he took control throughout. Class drop and experience probably helped Ellies Buddha, a good, albeit non-threatening, runnerup.

Sixth Race: Pletcher finally gets his first juvenile debut winner with Il Girasole, who withstood several stretch challenges in game fashion. Wonder what the winter book odds would have been that the score would come in a turf route? Could have gotten out for the meet on that one.

Seventh Race: Velazquez was unseated at the start aboard Gaelic Storm but was unhurt. No truth that he told the stewards he was unsure that he had fallen More tough luck for a turf favorite as Leo got bottled up and shook clear much too late. Kiaran McLauglins barn continues to go well as National Captain was unaffected racing in two aluminum pads.

The Honorable Miss: Burmilla got a gift. For a Grade 2, six furlong stakes to go in :23.03 and :45.90 early is a joke, but apparently Rafael Bejarano is the only jock smart enough to be laughing. The filly came home in a worthy :23.61, but she should have under the circumstances. Favorite Miss Macy Sue was in a jackpot throughout, to put it kindly, not a good job by Edgar.

Ninth Race: Gilded Thread, first-time Tom Bush, took the finale, paying $37.20 and keying a $26,415 superfecta and, of course, the Pick Six was hit, returning $79,957. There will be a quiz on Monday. Goodnight.