08/24/2005 11:00PM

Frankel has favorite again


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - One year ago, was outgamed through the stretch and beaten a half-length by the Bobby Frankel-trained Nothing to Lose in the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap. On Saturday, Silver Tree returns against an even more formidable Frankel foe, two-time Grade 1 winner Leroidesanimaux, in the 2005 edition of the Grade 2 Fourstardave.

Leroidesanimaux carries high weight of 122 pounds and will be heavily favored against only

five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Fourstardave. Along with Silver Tree, the opposition is Hotstufanthensome, Senor Swinger, America Alive, and Steel Light.

Leroidesanimaux has not started since surviving a racelong pace duel to capture Santa Anita's Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Handicap on March 5. The victory was the second straight Grade 1 win for the Brazilian-bred son of Candy Stripes, who closed out his near-perfect 2004 campaign with a half-length triumph in Hollywood Park's Citation Handicap. Leroidesanimaux has earned Beyer Speed Figures of 111 or 112 in each of his last four starts. None of his five rivals in the Fourstardave has ever run a figure above 108.

"He had a little problem after his last win, so I just decided to give him some time off and get him ready for the end of the year with the Breeders' Cup Mile our main objective," said Frankel.

Leroidesanimaux, who is owned by TNT Stud, has worked steadily over the Belmont turf and the Oklahoma turf training track at Saratoga since mid-July.

"He's doing great and ready to run," said Frankel.

Jon Court, who has not ridden at the Saratoga meeting but has been aboard Leroidesanimaux for each of his last four wins, will come in to ride.

Silver Tree has held his form remarkably well over the last two seasons, but remains winless since capturing the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap over a yielding course here last summer. Silver Tree is coming off a second-place finish behind favored Artie Schiller in defense of his Bernard Baruch title on Aug. 1.

"He's doing fine, and his last performance was very good," said Bill Mott, who trains Silver Tree for Peter Vegso. "I thought he was a little unlucky in the Fourstardave last year since he had to go a little wide and the winner slipped through along the fence. That was the difference. And it certainly looks like Bobby's horse is the one to beat again."

America Alive is the only Grade 1 winner in the field other than Leroidesanimaux. A stretch-running son of American Chance, America Alive rallied from last to capture the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by 1 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs on June 11 but is winless in three subsequent starts. He finished third in the Bernard Baruch, nearly seven lengths behind runner-up Silver Tree.

"He needs a good pace, and things haven't exactly panned out in his last three races," said Neil Howard, America Alive's trainer.

Steel Light, who will likely be the longest price on the board, makes his U.S. stakes debut off a third-place allowance finish over a sloppy track on July 17.

"They had only five horses for the race and asked us to run to make it six, which is the main reason we're in here," said trainer Christophe Clement. "And I believe it's a good thing for horsemen to support the cards on big days like the Belmont and Travers."