08/11/2004 12:00AM

Alke, Badge of Silver clash


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Technically, the $65,000 Waya Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles on turf is the feature on Friday's nine-race card at Saratoga. In reality, the race to see is the seventh, a $58,000 classified allowance sprint featuring graded stakes winners Badge of Silver and Alke.

The 6 1/2-furlong race may serve as more of a prep for the Grade 1 Forego on Sept. 4 than Saturday's $200,000 Vanderbilt Handicap will. A field of 12 - 10 of whom are stakes winners - was entered for Friday's race.

Injuries have limited Badge of Silver to just six career starts. When he's good, he's very good, as his 10-length victory in the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes in 2003 will attest. Badge of Silver has not run since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 General George Handicap on Feb. 16. Trainer Ronny Werner said Badge of Silver was unable to handle the loose Pimlico surface that day.

was entered to run in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 10, but was scratched the morning of the race due to a keratoma that developed on his foot. Badge of Silver needed surgery to correct the problem and was out of training for a couple of months. He has been on a steady work pattern for the last six weeks, and Werner is looking forward to getting started.

"The foot is looking super," said Werner, who then searched for a piece of wood on which to knock. "Everything's been great; too good to be true. You know us trainers, we'd always like another work. I'd rather this be six [furlongs] than 6 1/2, but that's what it is."

Jerry Bailey worked Badge of Silver five furlongs in 1:00 on Aug. 6 and will ride him in the race.

, a 4-year-old son of Grand Slam, has won four of five starts since being turned over to Todd Pletcher last fall. His victory in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap earned him a trip to Dubai, where he finished second in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on March 27.

Pletcher was pointing Alke to the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder in July, but the horse developed a quarter crack "and it took a couple of weeks before we got it straightened away," Pletcher said.

Alke will have to break from post 12 under John Velazquez.