07/21/2007 12:00AM

Opening-day Schuylerville lures nine


ELMONT, N.Y. - Fresh off his first Belmont trainer's title, Gary Contessa will try to keep the good times rolling at Saratoga when that meet opens on Wednesday. Contessa entered horses in six of the 10 races carded, including I Promise in the Grade 3, $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes for juvenile fillies.

A field of nine was entered for the Schuylerville, contested at six furlongs. Subtle Aly, an impressive debut winner at Churchill before being sold privately, and According to Plan, a sharp debut winner at Belmont for Barclay Tagg, will likely vie for favoritism.

I Promise, a New York-bred daughter of Hook and Ladder, won her debut by seven lengths on June 28 over a good Belmont track. She dueled with Exonerated through a half-mile in 45.47 seconds and covered the five furlongs in 58.09 seconds.

"I didn't think she was my number-one 2-year-old filly," said Contessa, who thought Bet the Diva, a second-out maiden winner, was better. "Some horses, they give it to you in the morning, some horses don't. I Promise showed me a lot in the morning, but she showed me a whole lot more in the afternoon. She stamped herself as a good filly in the afternoon."

I Promise showed Contessa something Saturday morning, working five furlongs in 59.17 seconds at Aqueduct. I Promise drew the rail and will be ridden by Eibar Coa, the leading rider at the Belmont meet.

Todd Pletcher, who has saddled three of the last four Schuylerville winners, entered New York City Girl and Lady Chace, but is likely to run only Lady Chace, a 10 3/4-length debut winner at Monmouth Park on June 28.

Pletcher said New York City Girl will likely be pointed to the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth on July 29. Pletcher was thinking about entering Glacken's Gal, the Astoria winner, but decided that filly needs more time and she will be pointed to the Adirondack

According to Plan worked four furlongs in 48.24 seconds on Saturday at Saratoga.

The 10-race card - which includes four turf races - drew 125 horses.

Brass Hat confirmed for Whitney

Following a strong five-furlong workout Saturday morning at Churchill Downs, Brass Hat was confirmed by trainer Buff Bradley as a starter for Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap.

With regular rider Willie Martinez aboard, Brass Hat went five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, the second-fastest of 24 works at the distance. Brass Hat was scheduled to leave Churchill by van Sunday morning and arrive in Saratoga by Sunday night.

"He worked super good, we were very pleased, he did it nice and easy," Bradley said. "He picked it up and started firing 11 [second] furlongs down the lane. Willie was very happy with it. He said he picked it up on his own. We're ready to go. My 12-year-old daughter, Kory, cooled him out and said he was feeling pretty frisky."

After being sidelined more than a year with a fractured sesamoid, Brass Hat won a money allowance race at Churchill Downs by a head over Student Council. The final time of 1:41.27 for 1 1/16 miles established a new track record.

"After the race I would have thought he was going to be knocked back a bit, but I guess I'm a bit surprised that he's come back as well as he did," Bradley said.

The Whitney is shaping up a terrific race. Expected to join Brass Hat in the starting gate are Diamond Stripes, Dry Martini, Fairbanks, Flashy Bull, Lawyer Ron, Magna Graduate, Papi Chullo, and Sun King. Awesome Twist and Wanderin Boy are possible.