Updated on 09/15/2011 1:53PM

King's Bishop tough test for Spa whiz City Zip


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It's just not that easy to beat City Zip at Saratoga. Trainer Linda Rice is hoping that proves the case again when she saddles City Zip in Saturday's $200,000 King's Bishop on the Travers undercard.

City Zip, undefeated in four stakes at Saratoga, is the likely favorite over seven other 3-year-olds entered in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs.

Last year, City Zip pulled off a rare sweep when he became only the fourth 2-year-old to win the Sanford, Saratoga Special, and the Hopeful, which he won in a dead-heat with Yonaguska.

City Zip once again proved he is a horse for the course by winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam in his last start on Aug. 3.

The six-furlong Amsterdam was not an easy race for City Zip, who fought tooth and nail with Speightstown through a quarter in 21.69 seconds and a half-mile in 44.86. The two rivals bumped repeatedly entering the stretch and then City Zip, who was racing on the rail, drew clear late for a length victory. The final time of 1:11.03 was a tad slower than the 1:10.95 New York-bred maidens ran 30 minutes later, although the fractions in the Amsterdam were far more taxing.

Rice, who has skillfully nursed City Zip through foot problems for much of the year, said the King's Bishop will be the sternest test so far in her horse's career.

"This is a big race for both the horse and trainer," said Rice, who earlier in the week was given an award by the New York Turf Writers Association for her success with City Zip last year at Saratoga. "It's going to be a strong race. He had an edge as a 2-year-old with his raw talent and experience. In this case, he obviously likes the track and likes to win, but this is a very talented group of horses."

Jorge Chavez is back aboard City Zip, who drew post 4.

With an abundance of speed in the King's Bishop, expect a free-for-all up front early.

Squirtle Squirt set a wicked pace, while under early pressure, in the Grade 2 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap in his last start on July 1. He saved the second spot, beaten a half-length by Ceeband, after owning a sizable lead in the stretch. Squirtle Squirt, who is trained by the red-hot Bobby Frankel, earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 111 that day.

Jerry Bailey rides Squirtle Squirt from post 6.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has won the King's Bishop five times, feels the time is right to test Orientate against stakes horses after two impressive wins at Saratoga, even though he is still eligible for a second-level allowance.

"He's very gifted," said Lukas. "He's on top of his game and his confidence level is way up."

Aly's Alley leads full Fourstardave

Aly's Alley, the 117-pound highweight, could be the slight favorite in the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap, which will be run over the Mellon course at 1 1/16 miles.

A capacity field of 14 entered the Grade 2.

Aly's Alley has displayed consistency this year, with a record of 2-2-0 from five starts. In his last, the 5-year-old had an awful trip in the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs and finished third. Aly's Alley was placed second upon the disqualification of the runner-up Where's Taylor, who drifted out and interfered with Aly's Alley.

Edgar Prado must maneuver Aly's Alley into a favorable position from post 11 for the run into the first turn.

Where's Taylor, who possesses early speed, drew well in post 1.

Trainer John Kimmel would like to get one last win out of Dr. Kashnikow, who has been sold and will be turned over to trainer John "Doc" Fisher after the Fourstardave.

Dr. Kashnikow, 2 for 3 at the distance, ran well in his stakes debut to finish third behind Hap in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch earlier in the meet.

"He's only run seven times, so there's room for improvement," Kimmel said. "He's capable of doing better, but Aly's Alley is pretty consistent and there's Where's Taylor - they look like the horses to beat."

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