08/10/2007 12:00AM

Red Zipper back with statebreds


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The combined 2007 record of the eight New York-breds entered for Sunday's West Point Handicap is 2 for 25. Red Zipper has one of those wins, and the most forgivable loss.

After finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, Red Zipper returns to New York-bred company when he heads the field for the $100,000 West Point, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over Saratoga's Mellon Turf Course.

The loss in the Manhattan ended a three-race winning streak for Red Zipper that began last October at Belmont and continued with a stallion stakes score at Aqueduct and a victory in the Kingston Handicap at Belmont in May.

With no other New York-bred option between the Kingston and the West Point, trainer John Morrison thought it was worth a shot to run Red Zipper in the Manhattan against Better Talk Now and English Channel. Red Zipper battled on the lead with Cosmonaut before giving way in the stretch to finish 5 1/2 lengths behind Better Talk Now.

"I think the distance was more of a question than the company," Morrison said of the Manhattan. "Eibar [Coa] said he thinks he can run with those horses at a shorter distance. He's trained very well since he's been up here. He likes it up here."

Red Zipper has shown he can win from on or just off the lead. With the speedy Retribution in the field, Morrison would like to see Coa have Red Zipper in a stalking position.

"I'm not concerned about how the race shapes up," Morrison said. "He's going to put himself up into it, and Eibar can just kind of take it from there."

Golden Commander, who won this race in 2004, was beaten a half-length by Red Zipper in the Kingston. He came back against open company, finishing sixth to Sunriver in an allowance race. Trainer Phil Serpe said Golden Commander injured himself in his stall and was forced to miss an overnight stakes. Serpe has been happy with how the 7-year-old gelding is doing coming into this race.

"He's training fine, he's doing good, he looks good,'' Serpe said. "Hopefully, he's going to run good here for us."

Dave won the West Point in 2005 and finished second in it in 2006. He came with a flying finish when beaten by Foreverness in the Naskra Breeze Stakes at Belmont on July 12. Foreverness, an 8-year-old gelding, came out of two key races at Monmouth before winning the Naskra Breeze.