07/21/2008 11:00PM

Five Saratoga trainers to watch


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - By sheer numbers, Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Kiaran McLaughlin, Gary Contessa, and Richard Dutrow Jr. figure to win the most races this summer at Saratoga.

But, every meet there is usually a trainer or two that few people associate with success at Saratoga who ends up doing well. Here's a look at five potential diamonds in the rough:

Bruce Brown

A former assistant to John Forbes and Tim Hills, Brown, 32, ventured out on his own this year and has had instant success, winning with 19 of his first 79 starters. That includes a Belmont meet in which he went 8 for 30.

Brown has an 18-horse stable that includes six 2-year-olds. He said he would have "two or three" of his 2-year-olds ready to run at the beginning of the meet, including Pretty Cozzy, a daughter of Broken Vow who fetched $115,000 at the Timonium 2-year-olds in training sale in May.

"She's done everything right so far," said Brown, who was the groom for the Grade 1 winner Tale of the Cat when he worked for Forbes.

Brown trains Big Al, a 3-year-old son of Repent who ran well twice at Saratoga in maiden races last summer and is coming off a third-place finish in an overnight stakes at Belmont. In the claiming ranks, Brown is looking forward to running Sapphire Eyes, whom he claimed for $25,000 and who ran a decent third for $45,000 in his first start for Brown.

Bella Attrice, a maiden winner at Saratoga last summer, has run well twice for Brown since being claimed for $35,000. He is eligible for a starter allowance early in the meet.

"You got to get a little lucky up there," Brown said. "When I used to work for Tim the years we'd go up there loaded for bear, those were our worst years, and then the years where you're thinking [you'll do] okay that's when you do well."

Mark Casse

Casse, 47, branched out from his Canadian base this year to have success at Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs. He has 12 stalls at Saratoga and will be shipping horses back and forth from his Woodbine headquarters. Casse said he stabled at Saratoga in the 1980s when he worked for Calumet Farm.

Casse has a number of 2-year-olds he is high on, and some who may show up at this meet include Indy Game, a half-sister to King Cugat by A.P. Indy; Coffee Bar, a son of Mineshaft out of the dam Java, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Fiji; Conflicting Report, a son of Graeme Hall who is expected to run on Friday; and Closing Speed, a son of Cherokee Run whose third dam produced Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero.

Among Casse's established runners pointing to this meet is Lickety Lemon, a 3-year-old filly who is likely to run in an overnight stakes on Aug. 2. Seaside Retreat, a 5-year-old turf horse who is coming off an allowance win at Woodbine, could race at this meet as well.

David Duggan

A former assistant to John Kimmel and Eoin Harty, Duggan ventured out on his in 2005. His stable has grown to 20 horses, led by Stud Muffin, who has won 2 of 3 starts since being claimed and will be pointing to the Solomon Northup Stakes on Aug. 9.

Porte Bonheur was third in a rapidly run second-level allowance race in her first start off a seven-month layoff. She is pointing to an overnight stakes on Aug. 2 and then possibly the Victory Ride on Travers Day.

Indian Delight, third in a starter handicap on the turf in July, is likely to run back in a similar spot on the dirt on Aug. 8, Duggan said. Indian Delight was a first-out maiden winner on dirt for trainer Scott Lake at Aqueduct.

Brendan's Warrior won a maiden claiming race on June 26, and Duggan is looking forward to running him against winners at the Spa.

"He didn't act like a racehorse prior to the race, then he belts one out of the park and has come back and worked super," Duggan said.

Duggan has several 2-year-olds in his barn. Two New York-breds he's looking forward to starting are Saratoga Tiger and Authentic Shot.

Tom Proctor

Proctor has been trying to improve his public stable since splitting up with Glen Hill Farm, for whom he trained privately for 3 1/2 years. Proctor, 52, said he remembers coming to Saratoga in the 1970s with his father, Willard, when the trees around the barns were eight feet tall. "Now they're 40 feet tall," he said.

"If you want good horses you need to start showing up at the races," Proctor said. "I race where I fit, which is still the right way to do it."

Proctor is bringing 12 horses to Saratoga, including the New York-bred turf filly You Go West Girl, who was beaten five lengths in the Grade 3 Locust Grove at Churchill. She could be a factor in the Yaddo or an overnight stakes.

Goat Cheese, a daughter of Cozzene, has found her niche as a marathon turf filly and still has allowance conditions. Closeout won the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park and is a candidate for a one-mile overnight turf stakes here on Aug. 9.

Proctor said he has a few 2-year-olds to run, but declined to name them, adding, "They may not be the right ones."

Wesley Ward

The Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider of 1984, Ward has carved out a niche as a trainer of 2-year-olds, getting horses to win early. He has won many juvenile races already this year and will send out probable favorite Notonthesamepage in Thursday's Sanford Stakes.

Ward, who will have a string of 27 at Saratoga, entered the maiden Mine All Mine for Wednesday's Schuylerville, but said she could scratch in favor of a maiden race on Thursday.

Singing Rose, a daughter of Cherokee Run, won a maiden race over Woodbine's Polytrack on July 10, but Ward thinks she'll do even better on dirt at Saratoga.

August Rush, a daughter of Milwaukee Brew, is one unraced maiden that Ward is eager to run at the Spa. She shows nine works, including five from the gate.

Cannonball, a New York-bred turf horse, will run in the Cab Calloway on Aug. 6.

"I've got a lot of horses that fit the spots in the condition book to where they're training well and should be competitive at various different levels," Ward said. "I've won 13 or 14 2-year-old races so far - now you go and see how good they are."