07/28/2007 12:00AM

Most Distinguished shortens up again


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Most Distinguished, a model of consistency no matter how far he goes, will turn back in distance for the third consecutive race when going postward as the likely favorite in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga.

The 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam, a Grade 2 event, serves as a prep for the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 25.

Most Distinguished has finished in the money in 10 of his 11 career starts. The only time the 3-year-old has been off the board was in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, when he checked home a tiring fourth behind Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, and Delightful Kiss.

Trained by Nick Zito for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, Most Distinguished came back from the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby to win a first-level allowance race at Belmont Park by 4 1/4 lengths going a mile on May 11. He then turned in arguably his best performance yet when shortening up to seven furlongs to finish second behind Teuflesberg in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens.

"You know I always like to stretch my 3-year-olds out if I can, but Mrs. Weber said she'd like to keep him sprinting for now," Zito said. "He just seems to be getting better with every start, and even though he's turning back in distance again, I don't think he'll have any trouble handling 6 1/2 furlongs."

Zito said he's hoping Most Distinguished will be able to get a similar trip to the one he had in the Woody Stephens.

"I'd love to see him be able to sit a few lengths off the lead just like last time," said Zito, who will reunite Most Distinguished with jockey Rafael Bejerano on Saturday.

Former claimer Americanus may prove the one to catch. A steadily improving son of Yonaguska, Americanus easily defeated older rivals in a first-level allowance and optional claimer going seven furlongs on June 23. It was his second start since being haltered for $50,000 by trainer Gary Contessa for Winning Move Stable five weeks earlier.

Roman's Run and Elite Squadron both bring two-race win streaks from Kentucky for their New York debuts.

Starbase turns back to a sprint off a steady diet of longer races, including a second-place finish behind Slew's Tizzy in Keeneland's Grade 2 Lexington during the spring.

Completing the lineup are Forty Grams, winner of Lone Star's one-mile Alysheba BC; Out of Gwedda; Sir Five Star; and Holy Canyon.