08/10/2005 11:00PM

'Path' gets easy lead and victory

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Path of Thunder finally got the firm turf she desires in the $67,100 first division of the on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course. But, like a late-night infomercial, there was more. She also was handed the lead and a soft pace over that firm course, and the combination proved lethal for her nine rivals.

Path of Thunder ($7.80) got away with a first half-mile in a dawdling 51.03 seconds, then flew through the final half-mile in 45.80 seconds to lead from start to finish and score a one-length victory over With Patience, who was second throughout. It was another length back to Sharp Needle in third.

"It turned out she was the only one who left with any initiative," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Path of Thunder. "They let her walk the dog pretty good."

With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Path of Thunder clicked off fractions of 25.78, 51.03, and 1:14.20 for the first six furlongs before completing one mile on turf in 1:36.83.

"I really wanted to stalk someone," Pletcher said. "I told Johnny to place her in the race. She gets lost if she's not in a prominent position. It seems speed is okay on the turf."

Path of Thunder, a 4-year-old filly by Thunder Gulch, is a full sister to Point Given. Owned by Michael Tabor, she won three in a row from December through April, but then faltered on a good course at Pimlico and a yielding course at Colonial in a pair of graded stakes.

"She was unlucky in her last two not to catch firm ground," Pletcher said. "At Colonial, it started raining when we were saddling."

In the $66,900 second division of the De La Rose, the enigmatic Cloakof Vagueness behaved herself in the paddock and saved her energy for the race, which she won by rallying from sixth to defeat favored My Lordship by a neck. Banyu Dewi was another head back in third in a finish that saw the first five horses separated by one length.

Trained by Phil Hauswald, Cloakof Vagueness ($10.80) has been prone to erratic behavior. On Monday, while schooling, she would not leave the paddock. But on Thursday, the only concession that needed to be made was to allow her to head to the track early for the post parade. Other than that, she was well behaved.

Cloakof Vagueness, ridden by Edgar Prado, was timed in 1:34.71.