08/20/2003 11:00PM

Distance test for Zavata


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Outside of the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, Saturday's $200,000 King's Bishop at Saratoga is the only other Grade 1 stakes remaining on this year's calendar for 3-year-olds.

Eager to take advantage of that opportunity are the connections of the 13 horses entered in the seven-furlong King's Bishop. The stellar field includes Amsterdam winner Zavata and Riva Ridge winner Posse. Eye of the Tiger and During, graded winners who are cutting back in distance, add intrigue to the race.

Off his 5 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Amsterdam on Aug. 2, Zavata figures to be the choice over Posse, who finished fourth in the Amsterdam as the favorite.

The question mark surrounding Zavata, who will be ridden by Jerry Bailey, is his ability to get the distance. Zavata lost his only start at seven furlongs when he was third in last year's Hopeful.

Patrick Biancone, Zavata's trainer, said the Phone Trick colt's running style makes him hopeful he will get the trip.

"He's a sprinter with acceleration," Biancone said. "He has speed and a ton of foot. Any horse that goes with my horse dies."

Zavata, who drew post 8, will be involved early.

Posse was beaten six lengths in the Amsterdam. It was his first defeat after three consecutive wins, including the seven-furlong Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park in June. In the Riva Ridge, Posse came from off the pace for a nose win on a sloppy track.

"He kicked pretty hard [in the Amsterdam], but that was a track that was tough to make up ground on," said Scott Blasi, an assistant to Steve Asmussen, Posse's trainer. "The Amsterdam will be a nice prep."

Corey Lanerie rides Posse from post 3.

Eye of the Tiger was fifth in the Kentucky Derby and hasn't sprinted since March, when he was third, beaten less than a length, in the ungraded San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita. His connections opted for the King's Bishop rather than the $1 million Travers.

"We know he can run shorter distances, and we thought this was a better opportunity to win a Grade 1," said Jerry Hollendorfer, Eye of the Tiger's trainer. "He really has done everything we have asked him to, and we expect him to do the same on Saturday."

Valid Video exits a career-best effort in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder on July 12. He beat a softer field than he meets here, but he won easily and earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, which is in the ballpark with Zavata's and Posse's best numbers.

Ghostzapper will try to give trainer Bobby Frankel a second victory in the King's Bishop, which Frankel won two years ago with Squirtle Squirt.

Ghostzapper won a second-level allowance race at Saratoga on July 26, beating Clock Stopper, who returned to easily win here last weekend.

Clock Stopper "ran by my horse, and Ghostzapper caught sight of him on the side and took off again," Frankel said.

Awesome Time and Christine's Outlaw, the one-two finishers in the Leonard Richards at Delaware Park, have been running in two-turn races for much of the year. During is also coming off a series of two-turn races, including a win in the Swaps over Travers entrant Ten Most Wanted.

Great Notion, Halo Homewrecker, Midnight Charlie, Scrimshaw, and Private City complete the field.