08/13/2007 11:00PM

Moon Catcher up for test


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Last weekend's Monmouth Oaks probably would have been an easier spot for Moon Catcher than this Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

But what's the fun in taking the easy way out? And considering how much fun trainer Tim Ritchey and owner Chuck Zacney had in Saratoga three summers ago, the Alabama became the only realistic goal for Moon Catcher.

The memories of the summer of 2004 when Afleet Alex captured the Grade 3 Sanford and Grade 1 Hopeful were part of the reason Ritchey, who is part-owner of Moon Catcher, opted for the more prestigious Alabama.

"Mr. Zacney and myself, we had a lot of fun up there with Afleet Alex," Ritchey said Tuesday morning from his Delaware Park barn. "Saratoga's a special place to win a Grade 1. It would be a feather in her cap."

Moon Catcher is one of seven 3-year-old fillies being pointed to the Alabama, all with a legitimate chance to win the 1 1/4-mile race. Also expected to run are Octave, Panty Raid, Folk, Lady Joanne, Lear's Princess, and Tough Tiz's Sis.

Moon Catcher, a daughter of Malibu Moonshine, has won 4 of her last 5 starts, including the Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup and Delaware Oaks. Those two wins came in front-running fashion following Ritchey's decision to add blinkers to the filly's equipment. That move came after Moon Catcher ran a spotty fourth to Panty Raid in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

"When I ran her in the Black-Eyed Susan, I thought she could have won that race," Ritchey said. "She wasn't focused. She only ran the last quarter of a mile, and that was the first time she's ever done that. It also gives her another dimension as well, because she shows a little more speed. We know she can come from off the pace."

Moon Catcher was very game in the Delaware Oaks, setting a contested pace and then turning back a stretch challenge from Winning Point, who has never been worse than second in her career.

While Moon Catcher will be stretching out from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles in the Alabama, Ritchie doesn't think that will be a problem.

"The only way it would be an issue was if there's a real fast pace and we get caught up in it," Ritchey said.

Ritchey has tabbed Kent Desormeaux to ride Moon Catcher, replacing Carlos Marquez Jr., who had been aboard for her two most recent victories.

Jones sends New Edition in Lake Placid

The Grade 1 King's Bishop isn't the only stakes race Larry Jones will be aiming for at Saratoga.

On Friday, Jones will send out New Edition in the Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf. New Edition, a daughter of Stormy Atlantic, is coming off a half-length loss to Dreaming of Anna in the Virginia Oaks last month at Colonial Downs.

New Edition, sent off at 25-1 that day, broke from post 11 and managed a three-wide stalking trip. She ran well, but just couldn't catch a loose-on-the-lead Dreaming of Anna, last year's 2-year-old filly champion.

Jones said post 11 "made us have to work for a little bit of position into that first turn. If we didn't have to use ourselves, we could have made it a little tougher."

As a 3-year-old, New Edition has run four times on turf, with two wins and two seconds. Jones said the filly's improvement from 2 to 3 can be attributed to racing on the turf and mental maturity.

Gabriel Saez, who has ridden New Edition in each of her last four starts, will come in for the ride.

Also pointing to the Lake Placid are Christies Treasure, Christmas Kid, Clifton Bay, Communique, Lady Attack, and Sharp Susan. Trainer Patrick Biancone may run Good Mood or Itsawonderfullife.

Meanwhile, Jones said Hard Spun would likely work at Delaware Park on Sunday morning and van to Saratoga that night. Hard Spun, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness and Haskell, is being pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs on the Aug. 25 Travers undercard.

Wait a While arrives at the Spa

Wait a While, last year's Lake Placid winner and the defending 3-year-old filly champion, arrived in town Monday afternoon and trained over the Oklahoma training track Tuesday morning as her owner, Alan Cohen, looked on.

"It's great to see her again," Cohen said, watching from a golf cart.

Wait a While has been out of New York for about five weeks. She shipped to California to run in the CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park, but had to scratch when she developed a fever. Trainer Todd Pletcher shipped her from California to Churchill Downs, where she trained for a month before shipping to Saratoga.

Wait a While is being pointed to the $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup on Aug. 23. Among her rivals will be My Typhoon, last year's Ballston Spa winner, who has beaten Wait a While twice this year.

Remarkable News back on track

Remarkable News, forced to miss the Fourstardave after developing a bout of colic, returned to the work tab Monday, breezing four furlongs in 48.84 seconds over Saratoga's main track.

"He went good,," trainer Angel Penna Jr. said. "He's back in business."

Penna said he will decide between the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16 and the $150,000 Red Bank Handicap at Monmouth Park on Sept. 1 for Remarkable News's next race.

Penna said he is somewhat leery of running in the Woodbine Mile off a 60-day layoff. But if he runs in the Red Bank, Remarkable News would have eight weeks until the Breeders' Cup Mile, a race that owner Holly Rincon has said she would supplement to this year. Remarkable News has not run since winning the Firecracker at Churchill Downs on June 30.

"Right now, my inclination is to go to the Woodbine Mile, but the Red Bank is not off the table," Penna said.

Riley Tucker pleases Mott

Forgive Bill Mott if inwardly he's rooting for Riley Tucker to turn out to be a star. After all, the horse is named for his 15-year-old son, Riley Tucker.

After a smashing debut at Belmont Park on July 20, the 2-year-old Riley Tucker will run in Thursday's $150,000 Saratoga Special.

Owner Ahmed Zayat approached Mott earlier this year and asked if it would be okay if he named one of his horses for Mott's son. Naturally, Mott said yes.

"I was thrilled," Mott said. "Several of [Zayat's] horses are named after some of his family members, so it's not unusual that he would do something like that, but it was very nice."

Riley Tucker, a son of Harlan's Holiday, debuted at Belmont and demonstrated very good early speed, carving out early fractions of 22.20 seconds, 44.96, and 56.82 while covering 5o1/2 furlongs in 1:03.08 and winning by six lengths.

"I don't know what more you could've asked for," Mott said. "He's fairly quick, quick enough to put himself in contention, that's for sure."

Thursday's Saratoga Special features the multiple stakes-winning Kodiak Kowboy and six other juveniles who have only won a maiden race.

* J Z Warrior, a 10-length winner here Julyo29 for Zayat and Mott, worked four furlongs in 48.12 seconds Tuesday. She worked in company with the stakes winner Got the Last Laugh. J Z Warrior is being pointed to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sept. 2.