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Aug 12, 2005



The closer we get to the Breeders’ Cup the further we get from crowning a

 champion. Heading into the weekend of August 6th and 7th the leader in the handicap

division was clearly SAINT LIAM. He had already defeated ROSES IN MAY the Dubai

 World Cup hero and was impressive in taking the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs

earlier in the Summer. He would face off against seven others in the Whitney (August 6th);

 another Grade I stakes race that would keep him on track for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

His main competition in the Whitney would be the entry of COMMENTATOR

and SIR SHACKLETON both horses trained by Nick Zito, who was enshrined into

racing’s Hall of Fame on Monday August 8th. The 3rd and 4th choices in the

 race were LIMEHOUSE and POLLARD’S VISION, both horses are trained by Todd

Pletcher but are not really contenders as leading handicap horse. After breaking very

well SAINT LIAM took back and raced on the outside of COMMENTATOR who was

sent to the lead by jockey Gary Stevens and led through fractions of 23:2, 46:2, 1:09:3,

 1:34:4 before coming home the final 1/8th of a mile in 13:2 for a final time of

1:48:1. SAINT LIAM who was in second the whole way made up some ground heading

 into the stretch but just wasn’t good enough to catch COMMENTATOR coming up a

 neck short. The fact that the final 1/8th was that fast SAINT LIAM had every opportunity

to nail him on the money and couldn’t. SAINT LIAM’s trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who

was very confident coming into the race and was happy that he would have a target to

 run at is looking to run a rabbit the next time they meet, probably in the Woodward

Handicap at Belmont Park on September 10th. COMMENTATOR who happens to be a

 New York bred ran his record to an impressive seven wins in eight starts with his only

loss coming in another two turn race at Gulfstream. He is being pointed to the

Woodward at Belmont and then possibly the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His accomplishments

 so far especially for a New York bred are very special and this horse can really put

 himself at the top of the list if he can finish the year out right.

Another race of importance was run that day at Saratoga in the Grade I Test for three year

old fillies run at seven furlongs. This year’s Test looked a little weak compared to

previous year’s but after the race we may have seen a very nice three year old filly.

LEAVE ME ALONE a California based horse was sent hard from the inside by

jockey Kent Desormeaux, took the pressure from the outside through a half in 45:2 and

 still had plenty left to draw away in the drive to score by almost eight lengths in a final

 time of 1:22:3. The favored entry from trainer Nick Zito checked in 2nd and 3rd but well

 behind the winner. His trainer Eric Kruljac was quoted after the race "This is the first

 horse I ever saddled at Saratoga," he said. "I kind of doubt we’re going in the Ballerina.

 If it was a full month, I would consider it." The Ballerina would be against older horses

but she proved she belongs with her performance in the Test.

Another big race that weekend was on Sunday August 7th at Monmouth where they hosted

the $1 million dollar, Grade I Haskell Stakes for three year olds at 1 and 1/8th miles. The

 favorite in the race was the Bob Baffert trained ROMAN RULER who was coming off a

 win in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont. He was the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last

 year but foot problems have slowed him down until now. The fact that AFLEET ALEX

had to miss the Haskell because of injury obviously helped his cause but ROMAN RULER

 is trying to make his presence felt in the three year old division now that it looks like he

 is healthy. The Nick Zito trained SUN KING made the pace and hung in well for second

 as PARK AVENUE BALL checked in third. Baffert has sent ROMAN RULER to Saratoga

 but has not made up his mind for the horse's next race. The Travers is a possibility but

the main goal for ROMAN RULER according to Baffert is the Breeders’ Cup Classic at

Belmont on October 29th, 2005.

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