08/11/2007 11:00PM

It's Ruffian – not Alabama – for Rags to Riches


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher made official on Sunday what he’d been hinting at for weeks: Rags to Riches won’t run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

Instead, Pletcher will point Rags to Riches to the Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 8. That will be her last race before the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park. If, for some reason, Pletcher opts to skip the Ruffian, the back-up is the $250,000 Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 15.

``She’s not going to run in the Alabama,’’ Pletcher said shortly after Rags to Riches worked five furlongs in 1:02.05 Sunday morning. ``She missed a little too much time. I didn’t want to push the issue, so I’m going to focus on one race before the Breeders' Cup. I would say it is likely to be the Ruffian. I think by the time Sept. 8 rolls around she’s going to be raring to go. But we’ll use the Gazelle as a back-up plan if we feel like we need the extra week or the track’s not to our satisfaction.’’

Rags to Riches, who has won all five of her starts this year, has not raced since becoming the first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont Stakes. She was being pointed to the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21, but missed that race due to a fever. On July 22, she was pulled up at the beginning of a five-furlong workout and subsequently underwent a thorough physical examination by several veterinarians. She missed a week’s worth of training before shipping to Saratoga on July 31.

Though Rags to Riches won’t be in the Alabama, the $600,000 race is coming up very strong. Pletcher will send out Mother Goose and Coaching Club winner Octave as well as multiple stakes winner Panty Raid. Also pointing to the race are Folk, Lady Joanne, Lear’s Princess, Moon Catcher and Tough Tiz’s Sis.