08/12/2009 11:00PM

Mother Russia takes Statue of Liberty to put Rice in lead


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - There's a part of Linda Rice that wouldn't mind seeing the Saratoga meet end right now.

Rice won two races Thursday, capped by Mother Russia's neck victory over Es Mia in the $150,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Series for 3-year-old fillies, to put her on top of the trainer standings, 9-8, over Todd Pletcher.

"I'd like to stop right here," Rice said.

Actually, no she wouldn't. Rice is on an amazing roll that has seen her win 5 of the last 6 races she has been in. She has won at least one race per day for the last five racing days, all on the firm Saratoga turf course. Overall, she is 9 for 21 at the meet, a whopping 43 percent winning rate.

"The weather last year was really a hindrance to me the first three weeks,'' said Rice, who went 9 for 52 for the entire meet last year. "This year the turf is firm, and that's been good for me."

The firm turf and the two turns were good for Mother Russia, won a division of the New York Stallion Series at Belmont in May before finishing sixth in the Edam Little Stakes for New York-breds on July 17. The Stallion Series races are restricted to progeny of New York-based stallions.

Rice also mentioned that Mother Russia had some issues entering the last race, and said she was regretful that she even ran the horse. Thursday, Rice was confident the horse was going to run big, and she did.

Under Ramon Dominguez, Mother Russia broke alertly and ran an opening quarter of 24.00 seconds while being pressed by Sezzana. She's Prime made it three across the track down the backside when the fractions were 48.82 seconds and 1:13.65. Mother Russia began to spurt away around the turn and opened up a large advantage in midstretch before holding off a late run from Es Mia.

Mother Russia, a daughter of Mayakovsky owned by Obviously NY Stable, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.44 and returned $6 as the second choice behind 8-5 Wild Awake.

"Two turns is good for her, it slows her down, he's able to rate her a little better," Rice said. "The one-turn mile at Belmont is not to her advantage."

Things will slow down for Rice this weekend, as she has only two runners between Friday and Sunday. Asked if she has enough ammunition to stay in the hunt for the trainer's title, Rice said, "I'm going to do my best."