09/06/2004 12:00AM

Prince Arch runs down Mustanfar in Saranac


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Prince Arch, who had been racing against the likes of multiple stakes winners Kittens Joy and Artie Schiller, returned from a layoff of nearly two months to win the $108,200 for 3-year-olds on the Mellon turf course.

Prince Arch, who won the Forerunner and the Jefferson Cup with strong closing runs earlier this year, had been freshened since a third-place finish in the Virginia Derby and needed every inch of the 1 3/16 miles to run down Mustanfar, who had collared pacesetter Catch the Glory in midstretch and opened a clear lead.

The 123-pound highweight, Prince Arch trailed early in a tightly bunched field of six, came widest into the stretch under Javier Castellano, and caught Mustanfar two strides from the wire.

Trained by Ken McPeek, Prince Arch ran the distance in 1:53.89 on firm turf to prevail by a head, and returned $6.10 to win as the slight favorite over Mustanfar among the Labor Day crowd of 21,648. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Catch the Glory, who held for third by 1 1/2 lengths over Good Reward.

Prince Arch earned $64,920 for his fourth win from nine starts on turf and was the fourth of five winners on the card for Castellano.

"I know some of the other jockeys were out of town," he said. "I have been waiting for an opportunity like this, and it came today."