08/18/2002 11:00PM

Against all odds, Farda Amiga prevails


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Farda Amiga, unraced since upsetting the Kentucky Oaks at 20-1 on May 3, overcame a cross-country ship, a 106-day layoff, and a wet racetrack to win Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

Under Pat Day, Farda Amiga rallied from well off the pace and wide to run down pacesetting Allamerican Bertie by three-quarters of a length. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to 8-5 favorite You in third.

Trainer Neil Drysdale scratched Bella Bellucci because he didn't want to run her over a wet racetrack. She will be pointed to the Gazelle Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 7.

Saratoga's main track was labeled good for the Alabama, but it had plenty of moisture in it. So much moisture, in fact, that all 10 races were run over a sealed track at the request of the jockeys, who felt it was safer than having track superintendent Jerry Porcelli open it up.

Speed held up through the early races, but the track seemed to balance out as it dried.

Under Larry Melancon, Allamerican Bertie jumped out to the front and opened up a clear advantage through fractions of 23.88 seconds, 47.81, 1:12.66, and 1:38.27.

Meanwhile, Farda Amiga raced in fifth position early on after breaking inwardly and resenting the kickback of mud in her face.

"She wasn't liking the stuff in her face, which is why I kept her out in the middle of the racetrack," said Day.

In the middle of the turn, Day turned Farda Amiga loose. She made a five-wide move turning for home, and with nine cracks of Day's left-handed whip, and 10 cracks of his right, Farda Amiga caught Allamerican Bertie in deep stretch. Farda Amiga ($8.70), which means Friendly Silks in Portuguese, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.68.

"I felt like when I put her to the task she was going to give me a punch," Day said. "If that was going to be good enough to get the job done, we didn't know. But, she stepped up to the plate and got the job done for us."

"She's an amazing filly,'' said Paulo Lobo, who trains Farda Amiga for the partnership of Marcos Simon, Julio Camargo, and Jose DeCamargo. "I think she proved today that she's the best 3-year-old filly in America."

Evening Attire overtakes Abreeze

Evening Attire closed furiously to wear down pacesetter Abreeze in the $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup.

Evening Attire won by 1 1/2 lengths. Dollar Bill, the favorite, finished third, 5 1/2 lengths behind Abreeze in the Grade 2 race.

The 1 1/4-mile Saratoga Breeders' Cup got off to a rocky start when Gander stumbled badly leaving the starting gate, pitching jockey Mike Smith to the ground. Smith was not injured, but took off his remaining mount in the 10th race. Gander appeared uninjured.

Gander, with the reins on his bridle dangling, was smack in the middle of his nine rivals on the first turn. Abreeze, with Richard Migliore in the saddle, had a clear lead heading down the backstretch. Gander began pressing Abreeze from the outside at around the five-eighths pole to the top of the stretch.

Migliore said Gander made Abreeze run faster than he would have if he were alone on the lead. "It cost us the race," Migliore said. "Here's a horse carrying no weight alongside of you. This is another way to lose a race."

Evening Attire, who was ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, came outside and wore down Abreeze deep in the stretch.

"He came running," Bridgmohan said. "[Gander] bothered us a little on the first turn. In the stretch, I took him outside so he wouldn't mind. Any moisture in the track helped him out."

Evening Attire ($9.90) covered the distance in 2:02.95 over a track labeled good.

Trainer Pat Kelly, said his ultimate goal for Evening Attire is the Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson