08/24/2006 12:00AM

Good pace setup for Ashkal Way


NEW YORK - Although Saratoga boasts many huge race days every season, Travers Day is annually the biggest day of all at the Spa. The $1 million Travers heads a card on Saturday that includes another Grade 1 event in the $250,000 King's Bishop Stakes, as well as a pair of $200,000 turf stakes, the Ballston Spa Handicap for fillies and mares, and the Bernard Baruch Handicap.

Bernard Baruch Handicap

On paper, there is no disputing that Badge of Silver is the best horse in this race. But even with top layoff trainer Bobby Frankel in his corner and a solid recent workout line behind him, I couldn't take Badge of Silver in this spot. Not when he hasn't raced since New Year's Day, and not with the presence of pace players such as T. D. Vance and Quest Star, which make it very likely that Badge of Silver, who is a speed sort himself, will have to work harder than he might prefer in the early stages.

Ashkal Way is a strong play here. Ashkal Way sustained his first defeat in this country when second in the Fourstardave Handicap earlier in the Saratoga meet, but his effort was as good as his three previous wins. The stretch-running Ashkal Way was severely compromised by slow fractions set by the loose-on-the-lead Remarkable News, and he just could not get to that opponent through the stretch. It also didn't help that in that five-horse field, Ashkal Way was somehow spun four wide on the far turn, resulting in meaningful ground loss. But the pace scenario Saturday is much more in favor of Ashkal Way, and he should mow this field down in the lane.

Arlington BC Sprint Handicap

This sprint stakes came up tough for an ungraded event. It has Coach Jimi Lee, who has won all three of his starts this year and now moves to a surface he adores. It also has Elusive Jazz, a good fifth in the BC Sprint last fall, who won a recent local prep for this race in his seasonal debut. But I like Kelly's Landing.

I know, Kelly's Landing is a pet of mine. I picked him in his last two starts, and even though he couldn't overcome having to carry me, he still ran well both times. Two starts back in the Aristides BC Handicap, Kelly's Landing made a bold run on the turn, but couldn't get past heavily favored Lost in the Fog. Last time out in the Smile Sprint Handicap, Kelly's Landing missed the break, rushed up on the inside, steadied on the rail going into the far turn, and was still battling on the inside to deep stretch before weakening late. That is not the way Kelly's Landing prefers to run. He is most effective when he can relax early and stalk from close range from the outside. That is precisely the kind of trip Kelly's Landing projects to get Saturday.

King's Bishop

It's probably crazy to pick against Henny Hughes in this race, especially if you think, like I do, that he has the potential to become the top sprinter in the country. But Henny Hughes drew the 2 hole, which is no treat going seven furlongs, and with a lot of speed breaking outside of him, he is going to have to be super sharp.

Like most, I have no idea where Court Folly came up with that big effort to upset the Amsterdam early in the Saratoga meet, but I'm going with him to upset right back. Maybe Court Folly suddenly improved overnight, or maybe he simply loves Saratoga, but he impressed blowing right by Songster in the stretch of the Amsterdam. Court Folly gets another favorable pace setup Saturday, and the added distance will help, too.


Saratoga: Bernard Baruch Handicap
3 and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-5:18 p.m., Central-4:18 p.m., Mountain-3:18 p.m., Pacific-2:18 p.m.; Saratoga Springs,

N. Y., forecast: Sunny, 76¦

2Fishy Advice100100957-2
4Terrific Storm95759210-1
5Quest Star9797986-1
7Badge of Silver10385995-2
9Ashkal Way10098963-1
10T. D. Vance88967910-1

Coupled: Etesaal and Ashkal Way; track morning line odds

Arlington: Arlington B.C. Sprint Handicap
3 and up, 6 furlongs

Approximate post: E-5:25 p.m., C-4:25 p.m., M-3:25 p.m., P-2:25 p.m.; Arlington Heights, Il., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 86¦

1Fifteen Rounds931001049-2
2Coach Jimi Lee1021061024-1
3Junior College107839115-1
4Level Playingfield9199988-1
5Alabama Clay1001048110-1
6Kelly's Landing96108953-1
7Rogue Scholar849210120-1
8Elusive Jazz101881007-2
9Gold Storm8899848-1

Track morning line odds

Saratoga: King's Bishop Stakes
3-year-olds, 7 furlongs

Approximate post: E-5:50 p.m., C-4:50 p.m., M-3:50 p.m., P-2:50 p.m.; Saratoga Springs, N. Y., forecast: Sunny, 76¦

1Quietly Go66767420-1
2Henny Hughes109102989-5
3Master of Disaster96965812-1
4Court Folly10892918-1
5Star Dabbler100978210-1
7Laptop Computer84977620-1
8Lewis Michael998410212-1
10Mach Ride103998410-1
11El Nino85869920-1

Track morning line odds