08/09/2009 12:00AM

Game Face has plenty left after duel


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The only surprising thing about Game Face winning Sunday's at Saratoga was the manner in which she did it.

Expected to stalk the hot early pace, Game Face instead was part of it, dueling between horses before wearing down Keep the Peace inside the eighth pole on her way to a 1 1/2-length victory. Keep the Peace held on for second by three-quarters of a length over P.S.U. Grad. Porte Bonheur, Lady Chace, and All Giving completed the order of finish.

The victory was the second in a row and fourth from seven starts for Game Face, a 4-year-old daughter of Menifee owned by Zabeel Racing International and trained by Todd Pletcher.

Game Face has enjoyed most of her success stalking her rivals. Sunday, she broke so sharply under Edgar Prado that she dueled between Keep the Peace and Lady Chace through splits of 22.76 seconds and 45.74.

After Lady Chace gave way, Game Face had to battle Keep the Peace - to whom she was spotting six pounds - and she won that battle comfortably with Prado simply waving his whip at his filly. Game Face covered the six furlongs in 1:10.70 and returned $4.40 as the favorite.

"She was so sharp and she took me right there the first couple of jumps out of the gate, and she was happy and Todd said don't take anything away that comes easy," Prado said. "I left her there, she was comfortable, she was pretty much in command most of the race and she kicked in beautiful."

Game Face has now won 8 of 15 starts and increased her bankroll to $779,348.

"She's a very genuine filly - she shows up almost every time," Pletcher said. "The only times she hasn't run well has been probably trainer error."

Pletcher said he may run Game Face next in the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes on Sept. 12. That race is run on a synthetic surface, as is the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.

Bribon impresses in return to turf

Bribon, winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Metropolitan Handicap on dirt in May, made a smashing return to the grass Sunday, winning a one-mile allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths while just missing the course record.

Under Alan Garcia, Bribon rallied from seventh position, split horses in deep stretch and rolled to his first turf victory since Oct. 5, 2005, when he was racing in France. Bribon's final time of 1:33.69 for the mile was just 0.27 of a second shy of L'Oiseau d'Argent's final time of 1:33.42 on Aug. 5, 2004.

"I wasn't watching time, I was just watching him," trainer Robert Ribaudo said. "He seemed pretty comfortable going down the backside. Going into the turn in some of his dirt races he really ranged up with authority; I didn't see that here going from the half-mile pole to the three-eighths pole. But Alan thought he had a lot of horse and he was just comfortable being behind horses, and then when he found his way through he just exploded for him. That's all you can ask."

It is likely that Bribon will make his next start in the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 20.

"Now at least we can think of that race with confidence," Ribaudo said.

Rice runs 1-4-8-9 in Finney Stakes

Trainer Linda Rice didn't sweep the top four spots in Sunday's $74,000 Finney Stakes as she did in last year's Mechanicville Stakes, but she was able to win the race anyway.

Ahvee's Destiny, who won last year's Mechanicville, made it 4 for 5 over Saratoga's grass course with a neck victory over the late-running Smart and Fancy. Rice also finished fourth with Mohegan Sky, eighth with Karakorum Elektra, and ninth with Meriwether Jessica.

Ahvee's Destiny, a 5-year-old daughter of Rizzi, covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.40 over firm turf under John Velazquez and returned $9.