07/26/2009 11:00PM

Five trainers to watch at the Spa


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - There aren't many new faces among the training colony this summer at Saratoga, but some familiar and not-so-familiar names could be sitting on really big meets.

Here are five trainers you may know better come Labor Day.

Chad Brown

Chad Brown, a former assistant to Bobby Frankel, has a big chance to improve on his Saratoga debut in 2008 when he went 6 for 18, including winning the meet's first race. Brown is 50-50 to be active on opening day, as his lone entrant, Speight of Hand, is entered as a main-track-only in the fourth.

Brown will have the maximum 30 horses on the grounds, with a strong mix of 2-year-old, allowance, claiming, and stakes runners.

Smooth Air, who breezed six furlongs in 1:11 on Saturday, is on target for the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 8. Dame Ellen, winner of two straight, including an overnight stakes last out, is a contender for Friday's Grade 2 Lake George; Quiet Meadow is expected to run in the Grade 1 Diana, where she figures to be a longshot; while recent pickup Eaton's Gift is being pointed to the Alfred G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 9.

Maram, the filly who won her debut for maiden $75,000 last summer en route to winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, is expected to return at this meet.

Brown has a large number of 2-year-olds, led by Day of Destiny, a son of Distorted Humor, and Heirness, a half-sister to Smooth Air by Five Star Day, the Vanderbilt winner of 2001.

Brown figures to run Richland Creek, a horse he claimed off D. Wayne Lukas out of a win for $35,000, as well as some horses he's bringing back off a layoff, including Hard to Explain, a horse he claimed for $35,000 last fall from Dennis Manning.

"I'll be running in some tougher races than I did last year, but I have several that are doing well, and we hope to have a good meet," Brown said.

Eddie Kenneally

The Kentucky-based Eddie Kenneally is bringing 20 horses to this year's meet, hoping to build on his respectable 4-for-18 performance from a year ago.

Kenneally hopes to get off to a fast start in Wednesday's Grade 3 Schuylerville with Cowgirl Mally, a debut winner at Churchill on July 4 who picks up Ramon Dominguez for this spot.

Other 2-year-olds he's looking forward to starting are Flexthegoldenpipes, third to Sanford hopeful Enumerate in a June 28 maiden race at Churchill, and Aspire, an unraced Tale of the Cat colt who shows a solid work tab leading up to his debut.

Uno Peso, Multipass, and Newport Harbour should be competitive in allowance or claiming races.

Kenneally has a couple of stakes horses in Custom for Carlos, who is eyeing Monday's Grade 2 Amsterdam after winning the Gradeo3 Jersey Shore on July 5, and Keep the Peace, who is targeting the Grade 2 Honorable Miss on Aug. 9 after running second in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder. Holy Bull Stakes winner Saratoga Sinner looks to return to the races at Saratoga, possibly in Saturday's Jim Dandy.

"We're excited about getting up there," Kenneally said. "Hopefully, we brought the right ones."

Mike Maker

If there is strength in numbers, trainer Mike Maker should have a good meet as he'll have 26 head in Saratoga and another 24 stabled at Belmont. Maker had a solid meet in 2008, winning 8 races from 25 starts.

"We should have plenty of opportunities to have a good meet," Maker said. "Nice balance of horses. We got some decent 2-year-olds up here, some New York-breds, bunch of claimers."

Maker starts two horses Wednesday and three Thursday. Queen Stephanie, who takes a steep drop in class in Thursday's fifth may be his first winner.

"The ones I wanted to get in to run the first couple of days didn't get in," Maker said Monday morning. "Queen Stephanie should be pretty tough, but the first day it looks like we're in pretty deep."

Maker has the solid New York-bred Future Prospect to run in Friday's $70,000 High Rock Spring Stakes.

Rumor Control, a recent allowance winner at Belmont, is targeting a stakes on Aug. 8, while Cruisin'nthebridle should graduate from the maiden ranks this meet.

Among his 2-year-olds is Stately Victor, a son of Ghostzapper who topped the Adena Springs Sales auction at $250,000. He is out of the Grade 1 winner Collect the Cash. Maker expects the colt Dean's Kitten, and the filly Lisa's Kitten - both third in maiden turf races sprinting at Belmont - to improve when able to stretch out around two turns on the turf.

John Terranova

John Terranova had a severe case of seconditis at last year's Saratoga meet, with 9 runner-up finishes and 3 wins from 21 starters. Terranova, who turned 39 on Sunday, has perhaps his largest string of horses in several years, with 19 at the Spa and 20 more at Belmont.

He appears to have his strongest group of 2-year-olds, led by Franny Freud, who has a big shot in Wednesday's opening-day Schuylerville Stakes. Other 2-year-olds that figure prominently are Always a Party, a Forest Wildcat filly who finished second in her debut, and College Grad, a Langfuhr colt who has been working well and should debut soon.

Terranova has several older maidens, including the unstarted 3-year-old fillies Maid of Flowers and Abudantia, who has 3 seconds from 4 starts.

The Maryland-bred stakes winner Broadway Producer and the Saratoga horse-for-course True Resurgence are due to return off layoffs. True Resurgence had a win and a second last summer at the Spa.

"We got a lot to run," Terranova said. "I hope we find the right spots."

George Weaver

George Weaver has won seven races at each of the past two Saratoga meets and appears poised to duplicate that again this summer. He starts the meet with three runners Wednesday, all of whom appear to be live.

Boots Ahead, who won a six-furlong maiden last out, meets winners for the first time in a first-level New York-bred allowance that goes as the fourth. In the fifth, City Trooper adds blinkers after finishing second in his debut. In the seventh, D'bigcat makes his debut, though he'll have to contend with the rail.

"He's got some gas," Weaver said of D'bigcat. "I think he'll represent us well."

Miss Challenge, who won here last summer, was beaten just one length in a turf stakes at Delaware in his seasonal debut July 19 and should get a start at the Spa. Frivolous Buck should fit in the New York-bred filly and mare turf allowance division.

Unflagging, a 5-year-old Wheelaway gelding, went 2 for 2 at Saratoga last summer, including a debut win at 30-1, and figures to return here, though he hasn't run since last Oct. 5.

Thou Swell, beaten a half-length in the Hall of Fame Stakes here last summer, has had some physical issues, Weaver said, but he's hopeful that he can bounce back from a poor seasonal debut earlier this month.

"We like to try to put ourselves in a position to run well here, it's a good place to win," Weaver said. "We do have some live ammunition."