Updated on 09/15/2011 12:55PM

He's gotta carry that weight

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
As the 160-pound highweight in Thursday's $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Hurdle Handicap at Saratoga, Praise the Prince figures to be a heavy favorite.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N. Y. - Praise the Prince, who has been nearly unbeatable over both the flat and the hurdles since first trying the fences during the spring of 2000, will be an overwhelming favorite to add to his already impressive resume - despite going postward under a staggering 160 pounds - in Thursday's $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Hurdle Handicap at 2 3/8 miles. The Grade 1 race is the highlight of Saratoga's 2001 steeplechase schedule.

Praise the Prince has won six of his last nine races over the jumps and both starts on turf dating back to May 2000. In each of his three losses during that span he finished second, each defeat a narrow loss to his nemesis Flasher.

Fortunately for Sanna Neilson, who trains Praise the Prince for the Augustin Stable, Flasher isn't in the field for the Turf Writers Cup.

Praise the Prince won his last three starts over the Saratoga course, including the Grade 2 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap by 4 1/4 lengths as the 3-5 favorite on Aug. 9. He will pick up two pounds off that victory and will concede up to 18 pounds to his five rivals in the Turf Writers, including his uncoupled stablemate Spring Salute. Neilson also entered Augustin's Lord Zada for the Turf Writers, but he would run only in the event that she had to scratch Praise the Prince.

Regular rider Gus Brown again will ride Praise the Prince.

"He's [Praise the Prince] doing real well, and I'd like to think if he runs his race he's just better than these," said Neilson, who worked for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard before taking out her own license eight years ago. "I'm not sure at what point he might begin to falter under the weight. He's not a big horse, but he has easy action and just seems to glide across the ground, which has helped him carry large amounts of weight successfully thus far."

Neilson sees Sheppard's It's a Giggle and Canta Ke Brave as the ones to beat.

"I think Jonathan's horse is capable of jumping up and running big," said Neilson. "He's a course winner and we have to give him 18 pounds. [Trainer] Jim Day's horse [Canta Ke Brave] also ran some solid races this spring, and is coming off a couple of good tries on the flat."

Neilson thinks Spring Salute has the talent to be a factor on his best game.

"He's not quite as consistent as Praise the Prince," Neilson said. "But he is capable of running a very big race when he decides to do it. He's just so unpredictable."

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