Updated on 09/15/2011 12:40PM

'Macho' makes comeback in allowance race


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - While Saratoga's opening-day feature is the $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes for juvenile fillies, it is the race immediately before it that holds the most intrigue.

Macho Uno, last year's champion juvenile colt, makes his long-awaited 3-year-old debut in a third-level allowance race at seven furlongs. It is his first start since Nov. 4, when he desperately held off Point Given to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

While Point Given has since come back to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes and vault to the head of the 3-year-old class, Macho Uno has been recovering from an ankle injury.

After spending most of the year at owner Frank Stronach's farm in Ocala, Fla., Macho Uno, a son of Holy Bull, returned to trainer Joe Orseno's barn in mid-June and has breezed five times at Belmont Park since June 23.

"He really moved forward fast," Orseno said Monday. "This race was available and I think he's more than ready for it. My whole idea is not to get him to peak right now, but to take it gradually with him. You have to start somewhere.

"Do I expect him to win?" Orseno asked rhetorically. "`I expect them all to win - not just him. I'm expecting a big effort from him. He should go out there and perform. The main thing is he has a good trip and we get him started on his campaign."

Orseno said he hopes Macho Uno runs well enough to bring him back in the Grade 1 King's Bishop here on Aug. 25, the same day as the Travers.

Coincidentally, it was last year on Saratoga's opening day that Macho Uno got his career started. He won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 2 3/4 lengths. He also ran a solid race in the Grade 1 Hopeful, finishing a neck behind dead-heat winners City Zip and Yonaguska.

Wednesday's race is certainly no easy spot for Macho Uno, who may be further inhibited by drawing the rail, often a disadvantage going seven furlongs here. Macho Uno, who will be ridden by Jerry Bailey, must face a group that includes the speedy Here's Zealous, Cowdin Stakes winner Fistfite, the streaking Majestic Lord, and Justification.

Bailey has 'Eye' on Go for Wand

Bailey climbed aboard Critical Eye for the first time Monday morning, guiding the 4-year-old filly through a five-furlong workout in 1:00.40 over Saratoga's main track. Bailey will replace the injured Mike Luzzi aboard Critical Eye in Sunday's Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap.

"Worked really well," Bailey said."``I've watched her run and I know she can finish well, but you always like them to work well over the track. I know she's won here."

With victories in the rained off Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay and the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap at Belmont, Critical Eye has rapidly ascended through the ranks of the older filly and mare division. Trainer Scott Schwartz, who timed Critical Eye in 59.95 seconds, is eagerly awaiting the race.

"``I wish the race was today," Schwartz said. "She's been ready to run for weeks now, she's doing great. And if it rains, it's only going to help her. Everything's going perfect."

Also scheduled to run in the Go for Wand are Beautiful Pleasure, Darling My Darling, Dreams Gallore, March Magic, Pompeii, and Secret Status. Princess Ellen and Wittenberg are listed as possible.

Day picks up ride on Unshaded

Unshaded, who nosed out Albert the Great in last year's Travers, breezed five furlongs in 58.66 seconds this past Saturday at Belmont Park. Sunday, he shipped to Saratoga, where he will again meet Albert the Great in Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Handicap.

Monday, trainer Carl Nafzger announced that Pat Day would ride Unshaded, replacing regular rider Robby Albarado who has commitments at Arlington Park that day.

Nafzger was a bit perplexed by Unshaded's 12-length defeat to Albert the Great in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 1. It may have been too close to his last race, a 5 1/4-length loss in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16.

"I just hope he shows up again this time," Nafzger said. "The Travers was the only race we were totally focused, totally fit, and got everything together. Hopefully, he's got it together again. That worked surprised me. Maybe he's turning the corner."

Unshaded suffered a tendon injury out of the Travers. He did not return to the races until May 17, when he won a money allowance at Churchill.

Unshaded was assigned 115 pounds for the Whitney, a nine-pound concession from Albert the Great (124). Also expected to run are Lido Palace (115), Gander (113), and Elite Mercedes (112). Possible runners include Pleasant Breeze (114) and Perfect Cat (112).

Saturday, Albert the Great worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a slow main track.

Dollar Bill works, but for what?

Dollar Bill, the hard-luck horse of this year's Triple Crown campaign, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 over Saratoga's main track Monday. Clockers caught him in splits of 13 seconds, 25.20, and 37.20 and had him galloping out six furlongs in 1:16.20.

It was only the second work for Dollar Bill since his fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Dallas Stewart is considering running Dollar Bill in the Grade 1 Jim Dandy here on Aug. 4.

"If he's ready," Stewart said "I'm not going to push the horse. He had a couple of weeks after the Belmont - he acted like he needed a couple of weeks off and he got it. At this point, I wouldn't say he's dead ready to run."

Stewart said he and owner Gary West have not made a decision whether Pat Day would ride Dollar Bill regardless of where he runs next. Dollar Bill has had some tough trips under Day this year, including the Louisiana Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness.

More Saratoga improvements

The New York Racing Association spent more than $2 million on improvements at Saratoga that should benefit fans and horsemen alike.

The new electronic tote board that debuted at Belmont will be in use at Saratoga.

Fans who hang out in the backyard picnic area should find several fan-friendly renovations. First, there is a brick-paved walking path that goes throughout the backyard. There will be less dust on dry days and less mud when it rains.

Moreover, fans in the backyard will have greater access to odds and the races. NYRA has installed three electronic auxiliary odds-boards as well as two jumbo-screen televisions. The new auxiliary odds-boards have been installed throughout the track.

On the frontside, there will be two jumbo-screen televisions and odds-boards as opposed to one last year.

In the past two years, NYRA has spent $6.5 million just on new electronic boards for its three tracks.

NYRA has also refurbished several barns, dormitories, and the recreation hall in the backstretch.

- The Oklahoma turf course, closed down for weeks because of an outbreak of army worms, will re-open Monday.