08/28/2003 12:00AM

'Prince' captures Turf Writers Cup

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What he couldn't do at odds of 2-5 two years ago, Praise the Prince got done at 5-2 on Thursday, taking the Grade 1, $113,800 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap before 17,494 at Saratoga.

Tres Touche, who finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Praise the Prince when those two were second and third in the A.P. Smithwick here on Aug. 7, finished second Thursday by the same margin. It was a neck back to Indispensable in third.

Two years ago, Praise the Prince wilted to third under a burdensome weight of 160 pounds. Thursday, he carried 150 pounds under Gus Brown.

Praise the Prince was reserved early, made a wide move to reach contention after the ninth fence, and was still in third approaching the 10th and final fence, which he successfully cleared before running past Mulahen and Tres Touche. Mulahen finished fourth.

Praise the Prince, owned by Augustin Stable and trained by Sanna Hendriks, covered the 2 3/8 miles over firm turf in 4:13.64 and returned $7.50 as the favorite in the 12-horse field.

"I've never ridden a great flat horse, but I wouldn't trade with any horse in the world," Brown said. "This horse has so much heart."