08/13/2004 11:00PM

Art Variety ready to go, turf or dirt


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - , coming off a rough trip in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Handi-cap at Arlington Park, looks like he has landed in a sweet spot in Monday's $65,000-added John's Call at Saratoga.

Named for the 2000 Sword Dancer winner, the 1 5/8-mile John's Call drew a field of 12 and is scheduled for the Mellon turf course. Four others were entered for the main track only. If the race is run on the main track, the distance will be 1 3/16 miles.

With rain in the forecast, the John's Call is unlikely to be run over a firm course.

Ken McPeek, Art Variety's trainer, said he doesn't believe soft turf is Art Variety's preferred surface, even though his horse has won over rain-softened courses. In June at Arlington, Art Variety held on to win a handicap by a neck on a soft course. He came back to finish fourth over a soft course in the Stars and Stripes. Art Variety was impeded by the runner-up, Silverfoot, and moved up to third.

"He ran really well in the Stars and Stripes, considering he was body-blocked big time," McPeek said. "Off that race, you could have made a case for him to run in the Sword Dancer, but he wasn't invited."

McPeek said he would probably run Art Variety on either turf or dirt. He drew post 4 and will be ridden by Edgar Prado.

In Hand and Host, the winner and runner-up in the Greenwood Cup Handicap at Philadelphia Park in June, figure in the mix.

After winning the Greenwood, In Hand was overmatched in his next two starts - the United Nations and Bowling Green. Jerry Bailey rides In Hand from post 11.

Host enters the John's Call off a poor effort in the Bowling Green.

"He had gotten sick after the Greenwood and wasn't at the top of his game in the Bowling Green," said John Kimmel, Host's trainer. "He has cycled back and is ready to go again."

John Velazquez, who has first call on main-track-only entrant Colita, also was named on Host, who drew post 2. Kimmel said he would run Host even if the race was moved to the main track. Host has won on dirt.