08/07/2006 11:00PM

Not an easy drop for 'Gold'

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - In three of his last four starts, Gold and Roses has faced a Grade 1 stakes winner. Trainer Tom Bush was hoping Thursday's $70,000 John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga would offer some much-needed class relief.

While Big Apple Daddy may not be in the class of a Funny Cide, Flower Alley, or Commentator, he still offers a huge challenge for Gold and Roses in the Morrissey, a 6 1/2-furlong stakes restricted to New York-breds. The Morrissey drew a field of five.

, a son of Gold Token, has had most of his success routing, including a win in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at 1 1/8 miles here last August. According to Bush, Gold and Roses has developed a sprinter's body, so Bush ran him in the Mugatea at Belmont last out and he ran second, 6 1/4 lengths behind Commentator, the defending New York-bred Horse of the Year.

"He's a much thicker, chunkier, heavier kind of [gelding] than he was when he was a young horse," said Bush, who has gone 3 for 10 at this meet while shipping in from Belmont. "I liked his last race.

I thought he ran well. [Garrett] Gomez didn't beat up on him when he knew we weren't going to win. The horse is holding his form in the morning and eating well."

Gold and Roses, the co-highweight at 124 pounds, will break from the rail and likely show speed under Gomez. He's going to have to clear Casper Peterson and perhaps Mt. Majesty, and then hold off Big Apple Daddy.

returns to statebred competition for the first time since he won the Hollie Hughes in February. Since then, he was beaten one length in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct, won the Don Levine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park, and finished third to Silver Train in the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont.

Big Apple Daddy needs a fast pace, and trainer Bruce Levine said he is leery of getting that in a five-horse field.

"When you get five horses or six horses in a race, they aren't going to go out there and go in 21," Levine said. "They're going to look at each other and sprint home."

Big Apple Daddy breaks from post 2 under Richard Migliore and carries 124 pounds.

beat Big Apple Daddy last November. Mt. Majesty has won his last three at Finger Lakes. Just in Fun won a statebred allowance race here July 31.