08/13/2010 3:57PM

Dutrow likes his Alabama chances


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Don’t tell Tony Dutrow that next Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama is simply a showdown between the West Coast-based Blind Luck and the East Coast-based Devil May Care.

As the trainer of Havre de Grace, who came within a nose of upsetting Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks, Dutrow feels his filly has a big shot to knock off the big two in the $600,000 race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles.

“I haven’t heard a word about Havre de Grace, and I can relate with that, but I feel better about Havre de Grace than most,” Dutrow said Friday morning. “Havre de Grace is a lightly raced filly, I felt she was going to run fantastic in the Delaware Oaks. I felt she was all there already that day, and she proved us right.

“I see her coming out of that race going forward fantastic, I’m excited about bringing her up here and running because I believe she’s going to run big,” Dutrow added. “I have all the respect in the world for Blind Luck, and I have all the respect in the world for Devil May Care.”

Havre de Grace is a daughter of Saint Liam owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm. She ran twice at 2 – both around two turns at Delaware Park – finishing third in her debut before winning an off-the-turf maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths on Sept. 30. It was determined at that point to put her away until her 3-year-old season.

“She was just a baby. and I was feeling like two turns is not going to hurt anything,” Dutrow said. “They’re going to run slow the whole way around there, she will not hurt herself physically, she’ll get some experience, and we’ll bring her back as a 3-year-old and hopefully she’ll be the filly that she is. It all worked out exactly the way we wanted it too. She’s a fresh horse right now and she’s in great shape so all of that campaign was by design.”

Havre de Grace won her 3-year-old debut at Philadelphia Park on May 10. She was beaten a neck by No Such Word in the Go for Wand at Delaware on June 5 before losing a heartbreaking nose decision to Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks – a result that Dutrow had a difficult time coming to grips with – on July 10.

“That one I’ll remember probably all my life, because I knew we won the race,” Dutrow said. “I’m in the winner’s circle looking up there saying ‘Why are they taking so long?’ I kissed my wife, hugged my groom. I knew we won. I’d never been more wrong in my whole life. There’s something to be said for Blind Luck – her nose gets to that wire. I hope she is the best filly in the country.”

Dutrow plans to work Havre de Grace at Delaware Park on Sunday morning and ship her to Saratoga on Monday.

“However she would come up here and do at Saratoga, it just can’t be any better than what she’s doing right now at Delaware so I didn’t want to move her,” Dutrow said.

In addition to Blind Luck, Devil May Care and Havre de Grace, others pointing to the Alabama are Acting Happy and Connie and Michael.

Friend or Foe works toward Travers

Friend or Foe, the New York-bred who suffered his first defeat when fourth in the Jim Dandy, worked five furlongs in 1:00.01 Fridaymorning in preparation for the $1 million Travers on Aug. 28.

With jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard, Friend or Foe was timed by Daily Racing Form in fractions of 11.78, 23.40, and 35.00 seconds. Friend or Foe got his last quarter in only 25.01 seconds, but Maragh was not asking much from him through the lane. Friend or Foe did gallop out six furlongs in 1:13.08 and pulled up seven-eighths in 1:29.10.

“I told Raj to squeeze him a little bit before the wire to get that two-turn feeling again,” said John Kimmel, trainer of Friend or Foe. “If he had asked him to finish he would have went in 58 and change. He knew he went fast the first part.”

Considering Friend or Foe had not raced around two turns before, Kimmel was pleased with the colt’s performance in the Jim Dandy, in which he was beaten three lengths by A Little Warm.

“He is the one horse in the Jim Dandy that you would think would legitimately improve when you consider he was being asked to do something he hadn’t done before,” Kimmel said.

Take the Points to Bernard Baruch

Take the Points was not pre-entered Friday for next week’s Arlington Million and instead will now be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap here on Aug. 27, trainer Todd Pletcher said Friday.

A wrenched ankle cost Take the Points some training time and forced him out of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational on Saturday at Saratoga. Though the horse returned to the track on Friday, Pletcher said there would not be enough time to make the Arlington Million.

“He went back to the track this morning, he was moving well,” Pletcher said. “I’m optimistic we’ll make the Bernard Baruch.”

Supplements help fill Special

The supplemental nominations of Wetzel and Blue Right By as well as the entry of the first-time starter Manchurian High helped fill the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special.

Perhaps the presence of Kantharos, who won his first two starts by 21 1/4 lengths, is why the racing office had to scramble to fill this race. Kantharos, trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, is coming off a 9 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on July 3.

Garrett Gomez replaces the injured Robby Albarado on Kantharos, who drew post 5.

Trainer Rick Violette entered both Bail Out the Cat and Sovereign Default, but named Alan Garcia on both, so only one may run. Sovereign Default, a two-length debut winner at Belmont on July 15, is the most likely starter.

Because of the small field, the Saratoga Special has been carded as the third on Monday’s nine-race card.

Freud’s Notebook wins stakes

Freud’s Notebook overtook the pacesetting Torrone at the eighth pole and then held off the late run of Rogue’s Jewel to win Friday’s $70,000 Lake Luzerne Stakes by three-quarters of a length under Fernando Jara.

Rogue’s Jewel finished second by two lengths over Tapaline. Torrone, the 6-5 favorite, faded to fifth.

Freud’s Notebook, the third offspring of Freud to win a restricted stakes race here this week, covered the seven furlongs in 1:25.16 and returned $5.50 as the second choice.

Freud’s Notebook is trained by Bruce Brown, who lost his other starter for the race, Healthy Debate, when that horse was scratched at the gate by veterinarian.