07/26/2001 11:00PM

Friday's Saratoga mid-day report


If there's a Horseplayer's Heaven, then it would have to be filled

with days like Friday at Saratoga.

Bright sunshine. Beautiful blue skies. Cool, 71-degree temperatures,

with no humidity.

A fast track, albeit a "good" turf course.

A card that features a graded turf stakes and an allowance race that

includes the Kentucky Oaks winner.

If you love the game and can't savor a day like this, then may we

recommend Prozac.


The rail looked like the place to be in the early races. No one was able

to lead from gate to wire, but three of the first four winners raced

along the rail at some point en route to the winner's circle.

Princess Dixie was wide the entire trip in winning the third

race, but she was an 8-5 and struggled to beat the horse inside her in a


One horse who may benefit from the way the track is playing is Double

Screen in the seventh, who might be able to rate and work out a

perfect trip on the rail.


Wrangler ($12) was rated along the rail early, then swung

four-wide approaching the quarter pole and drew off to win the opener by

5 1/4 lengths. Friday's A Comin, the co-favorite at 2-1, rallied

up the rail to finish second.

Agawam Lake tried the overland route, rallying five-wide, but

faded in the stretch to fifth.


Heavily touted firster Da Belle was a late scratch due to a lasix

problem, nevertheless another firster wound up in the winner's circle as

the Shug McGaughey-trained Vespers ($19.40) rode the rail every

step of the way to take the second.

Favored Ms. Rapunzel waited for room at the top of the turn, then

rallied in the middle of the track to draw even with Vespers in late

stretch, but was outkicked in the final yards.


A firster had to win the third race. Once morning-line favorite

Whataboutus was scratched, the remaining 11 2-year-old New York

State-breds were all making their debut.

Princess Dixie ($5.40) was four-wide most of the way and survived

a rugged stretch duel with Go Going Gone and a brief stewards's

inquiry to score as the 8-5 favorite.

Go Going Gone turned in a solid debut, moving just inside the winner on

the turn and giving way grudgingly in the final strides.

Pocahaba had to squeeze through a tight hole on the rail in upper

stretch, but didn't gain much ground once he worked free and wound up



Golden Arm rallied up the rail under Jerry Bailey to take the

fourth and return $4.50 as the 6-5 favorite.

Starbury stalked the pace three-wide, but had to settle for being

second best in a game effort.