08/03/2010 3:20PM

Flamin' Hot tries to remain unbeaten on turf in Latham Stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When trainer Rick Violette looked at the entries for Thursday’s Latham Stakes at Saratoga, he couldn’t believe the purse was only worth $70,000.

“The purse should be about $250,000,” said Violette, who will start Flamin’ Hot in the 5 1/2-furlong turf stakes. “It’s an incredibly competitive race. Certainly, you can make a case for about half a dozen of them.”

Flamin’ Hot is 4 for 4 on turf, including a victory in the Anderson Fowler Stakes on June 18 at Monmouth Park. That day, he was elevated from second to first by the stewards after Escrow Kid, who finished first, impeded several horses in the stretch. Violette was surprised how well Flamin’ Hot finished after a sluggish start under Alan Garcia.

“Alan had to ride the hair off of him just to be second to last,” Violette said. “In the stretch, he changed leads, set sail for the leaders, and did the impossible to get in the picture.”

Violette said that Flamin’ Hot has trained very well in Saratoga and should benefit from what looks to be the presence of a lot of speed.

Part of the speed may be supplied by Dazzled Saint, who tries turf for the first time after winning three consecutive races over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs. John Bourke, who has trained horses for 45 years, will make his Saratoga debut with this 3-year-old gelding.

“He’s a very quick horse but this horse can also be rated,” said Bourke, who has Garrett Gomez to ride. “He’s outclassed the horses he’s been in with and has found himself on the front end. If it comes up like a suicide pace, he can sit.”

Bridgetown was a front-running winner of a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race here last summer. He went on to win the Grade 3 Summer at Woodbine before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He has not run since finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Generous last Nov. 28.

“He’s coming into it great,” said trainer Ken McPeek. “He had a little time off at Mr. [Eugene] Melnyk’s farm in Florida. We had him a couple of months in Kentucky before he came up here. He looks bigger and stronger than last year. Five-and-a-half furlongs is a good distance for him. I’m expecting a big effort.”

Westover Wildcat, who tries turf for the first time, Don’t Say No, Enumerate, Escrow Kid, Never Content, Red Rally, and That’sthequestion complete the field.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman