08/01/2006 11:00PM

Prospective Saint tough in Gardenia off last start

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Prospective Saint will tote high weight of 119 in Saturday's Gardenia.

HENDERSON, Ky. - Florida shipper Prospective Saint will be the 119-pound highweight Saturday in the annual high point of the Ellis Park meet, the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap, which serves as the focus of the Big Four Stakes program.

Prospective Saint is one of 11 fillies and mares entered Wednesday for the $150,000 Gardenia, the richest of the Saturday stakes. The three other stakes, worth $50,000 apiece, on the 11-race card are: the Anna M. Fisher Debutante, the James C. Ellis Juvenile, and the Regaey Island.

Prospective Saint, a 5-year-old Saint Ballado mare trained by Marty Wolfson, will be ridden by Eddie Castro while spotting her rivals four to seven pounds. Prospective Saint arrived Wednesday at Ellis from her home base at Calder in Florida.

In her last start, Prospective Saint finished second at Calder after the tracking the pace in the six-furlong Princess Rooney, the Grade 1 race in which heavily favored Dubai Escapade finished off the board. Wolfson said Prospective Saint proved her tractability once again in the Princess Rooney and that she should relish the stretchout to a mile in the Gardenia.

"That was a factor in deciding to send her to Ellis," said Wolfson. "She doesn't have to be in front. In both her races this year, she sat really nice just behind the pace. She's really learned to relax."

This is only the second year that the Gardenia, which dates to 1982, has been run at a mile out of the clubhouse-turn chute. The race traditionally had been run around two turns at 1 1/8 miles.

Prospective Saint will start from post 8 in a Gardenia that sets up this way from the rail: Ten Carat Ruby, Maggie Slew, Starry Pie, Plaid, Sea Siren, Island Escape, Fast Navy, Prospective Saint, Beau Watch, Fly Away Angel, and Character Builder.

Fast Navy is coming off perhaps her best race since being imported from Brazil last year. Fast Navy won a Churchill Downs allowance as the favorite in her last start.

"That's why we're going," said trainer Eduardo Caramori. "She ran against stakes winners in Brazil, but this is the first time she's going to face this kind of competition. I don't know if she's good enough, but we are going to see."

Uncoupled Pletcher pair in Debutante

As if his stable needs to wield any more clout across the continent, trainer Todd Pletcher will hold a very strong hand when his far-reaching stable makes its first appearance at Ellis, in the seven-furlong Debutante. Pletcher, with Michael McCarthy assisting, will be represented by the uncoupled entry of Come Together and Cowgirls Don't Cry in the field of 12 2-year-old fillies.

* The only Big Four field with fewer than 11 starters is the seven-furlong Ellis Juvenile, which drew a well-matched group. Among logical contenders in the field of seven 2-year-olds are Commanding Carson, a romping local maiden winner; Trophy Road, an Ohio-bred whose 77 Beyer Speed Figure in a July 2 maiden romp at River Downs is the tops of the group; and Western Prize, a two-time winner at the Churchill meet.

* A terrific betting race is in the offing with the Regaey Island, a 1 1/16-mile turf race restricted to 3-year-olds. Equal Opportunity, a two-back winner of a small turf stakes at Arlington Park, and Bahri and Grill, a sharp winner of a recent allowance at Arlington, figure among the choices in another full field of 12.