08/13/2009 11:00PM

Don't Forget Gil looks eager for Alabama

Barbara D. Livingston
Alabama prospect Don't Forget Gil, under exercise rider Gustavo Delgado, breezes five furlongs in 1:00.05 on Friday morning at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - If Rachel Alexandra doesn't show up in the entries, then next Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama becomes a wide-open affair. Don't Forget Gil cemented her position as a top-flight contender Friday morning with her second consecutive sharp workout over Saratoga's main track.

Don't Forget Gil, runner-up in the Coaching Club American Oaks last month, went five furlongs in 1:00.05, with a last quarter in 24.83 seconds under exercise rider Gustavo Delgado. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.69. This work came one week after Don't Forget Gil went four furlongs in 46.85 seconds.

"She's training great, she's really happy,'' trainer Mark Hennig said. "You wouldn't know [she worked fast], she's bouncing around; she's ready to go again.''

Don't Forget Gil had license not to run well in the Coaching Club American Oaks. She hadn't run in 11 weeks prior, was coming out of a poor effort in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and was attempting to run 1 1/4 miles for the first time.

Still, she had trained so well at Belmont Park, Hennig had confidence the filly would fire big and she did, coming up a neck short to Funny Moon.

"The race sent us forward quite a bit,'' Hennig said. "I was concerned about running a mile and a quarter off that long a layoff that she would be knocked out, but she got in the feed tub and ate everything that night.''

Hennig was also a bit concerned whether Don't Forget Gil would like Saratoga as much as she does Belmont.

"She absolutely loves Belmont,'' Hennig said. "I was a little bit concerned coming up here. Is she going to be as happy with this track? And she seems to be training super.''

Also working Friday for the Alabama was Milwaukee Appeal, the Woodbine Oaks winner who went five furlongs in 59.24 seconds while drifting out. Others pointing to the race include Be Fair, Careless Jewel, Funny Moon, Tasty Temptation, and Wynning Ride. Possibles include Bon Jovi Girl, Gozzip Girl, and Sweet and Flawless.

While Rachel Alexandra has not been entirely ruled out of the Alabama, it is more likely that she starts next against males in either the Travers or Woodward.

Flatter Than Me sizzles in Special work

Flatter Than Me, runner-up to undefeated Backtalk in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes, worked five furlongs in 58.44 seconds Friday morning in preparation for a start in next Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special. It was the fastest of 22 works at the distance.

Flatter Than Me, trained by part-owner Merrill Scherer, was being pointed to the Sanford Stakes here on July 30. After arriving in Saratoga from Kentucky, Flatter Than Me got sick and missed nine days of training, according to Scherer.

"We came up on the 21st and the next day he had a 103 temperature and it stayed up there for quite a few days,'' Scherer said.

Thursday's work was Flatter Than Me's second move in a week. He was timed in fractions of 11.40 seconds, 22.20, 34.20, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.69.

"I wish I had a little more time, but I plan on running him next Thursday,'' Scherer said.

Others pointing to the Special include Activity Report, China, D'Funnybone, Fearless Cowboy, Insightful, Not Macho Any More, Thiskyhasnolimit, Tiny Woods, and Zip Quik.

On Thursday, China worked five furlongs in 1:00.88 while Not Macho Any More went the same distance in 1:00.05, both over the main track.

Blame to skip Travers in favor of Super Derby

Blame, sharp winner of the Curlin Stakes here on Aug. 2, will make his next start in the $500,000 Super Derby on Sept. 19 at Louisiana Downs and not in the $1 million Travers here on Aug. 29, trainer Al Stall said Friday.

Stall said that the decision was made to follow the same path as Blame's sire, Arch. In 1998, Arch won a second-level allowance race by nine lengths and then won the Super Derby, which at the time was a Grade 1.

"We're going to follow along the same lines as his dad,'' said Stall, who trains Blame for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, the same connections who campaigned Arch.

Blame won the Curlin by three-quarters of a length following a first-level allowance win at Churchill on July 2. He is 3 for 5 with two thirds.

NYRA to honor Commentator Sept. 6

The New York Racing Association will pay tribute to the recently retired gelding Commentator here on Sept. 6, the day before the meet ends.

Commentator won two Whitney Handicaps in a career that saw him win 14 of 24 starts and earn more than $2 million. He was retired by owner Tracy Farmer following his third-place finish in the Whitney here on Aug. 8.

Commentator will be paraded before the fans prior to the Commentator overnight stakes. Commentator will receive an edible key to the city while his connections will receive a framed commemorative photo collage of Commentator.

* When Kissa Melissa ($13.20) won Friday's fifth race, it was trainer Mitchell Friedman's first victory at Saratoga in exactly four years. His last win came with Lila Paige on Aug. 14, 2005. In the interim, Friedman had started 27 horses here.