10/26/2007 12:00AM

Palace Episode has finally come to hand

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - The rain was forecast to be gone by Sunday, but its intensity and duration before vacating the premises will determine whether the rescheduled $100,000 Knickerbocker Handicap remains on the turf course.

Originally carded for Saturday, the Grade 3 Knickerbocker was pushed back 24 hours in hopes of keeping it on the grass. The connections of 10 turf-meant colts and geldings, including Fishy Advice and Giant Wrecker, the second and third finishers in this race last year, are hoping that is the case. The opportunistic trio of Barcola, Evening Attire, and Like Now are entered for the main track only.

The most accomplished runners at the Knickerbocker's 1 1/8-mile distance are Fishy Advice, who led for most of the way as the even-money favorite in the 2006 Knickerbocker and was nipped in a head-bobbing finish, and Interpatation, the third-place finisher in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last time out. Interpatation has notched 4 of his 5 victories at nine furlongs, capped by the $200,000 Larry R. Riviello President's Cup at Philadelphia Park in September.

Interpatation drew the rail; Fishy Advice is stuck on the outside in post 10.

Though he has never won past 1 1/16 miles, Godolphin Racing's Palace Episode may be the one to beat, and a seventh-place finish on yielding turf in his U.S. debut is probably not a true measure of his ability to handle rain-softened turf. As a 2-year-old in England, he won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a course labeled heavy.

Palace Episode appeared to recapture his best form in mid-summer, when he won a third-level allowance with a stylish stretch kick. In the one-mile Kelso, he made up 11 lengths despite steadying in traffic turning for home.

"When we got him down at Payson Park, he wasn't training all that well," recalled Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saaed bin Suroor. "He hadn't shown a whole lot and I didn't expect him to do much first time out, but he really came on once we got him up to Saratoga."

As in all his U.S. starts, Palace Episode will be ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn.

"I knew he's a guy that would stick with the horse," Mettee said. "We kind of like to keep continuity in our riders. If you notice, we don't tend to change riders a whole lot. Samyn rides the grass well, and he's patient."