08/08/2008 11:00PM

Ariege returns in stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When it announced the stakes schedule for Saratoga, the New York Racing Association raised eyebrows by putting the $100,000 Yaddo for New York-bred turf fillies and mares as the feature for the third Saturday of the meet. The Sword Dancer, traditionally carded for the third Saturday of the Saratoga meet, was moved back a week.

Racing secretary P.J. Campo pulled another shocker Thursday when he decided not to card the Yaddo because it drew only five entrants. Historically, the Yaddo has drawn large fields, even being run in two divisions five times since 1990. Campo said he would try to bring the Yaddo back for Sunday and was hopeful to hustle up another starter or two.

While Saturday's 11-race card lacks a traditional feature, there are four overnight stakes worth $100,000 each for handicappers to delve into. The most interesting of the quartet is the $100,000 Madame Jumel for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, featuring the comebacks of Grade 1 winner Ariege and Grade 2 winner Sea Chanter. The one-mile race drew 16 entrants, including two horses entered for the dirt. Only 10 will be permitted to run on the turf.

Ariege, purchased by the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable at the end of last year, won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and the Grade 2 Beaumont, both over synthetic surfaces, for trainer Bobby Frankel. Following the Beaumont, Ariege underwent surgery to take a chip out of an ankle.

"She seems super, really good," Frankel said. "She grassed twice in California; the first time she got stopped cold, she had no place to go. Second time she got beat a nose. She's a real good filly."

Sea Chanter has not been out since last November, when she won the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park. In late December, Sea Chanter suffered an ankle injury that sent her to the sidelines. She resumed training in May. Sea Chanter shows eight works since June 13.

"She's training very well," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Thought about coming back in the Lake George, but felt like a couple of more works might benefit her. Just felt like the mile was a good distance for her to start back, and this is also good spacing for the Garden City were she to run well."