08/06/2009 11:00PM

Rice enters four in turf sprint


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Is another Linda Rice superfecta in the offing in Sunday's $70,000 Finney Stakes at Saratoga?

On Aug. 18, 2008, Rice sent out the first four finishers in the Mechanicville Stakes for New York-breds at Saratoga. Sunday, Rice has four of the 12 horses entered in the $70,000 Finney Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong turf stakes for fillies and mares.

"Oh boy, that crazy Linda Rice, she's got four in that darn race," Rice said, knowing the nature of a reporter's visit Friday morning.

Rice was planning to run just Ahvee's Destiny and Karakorum Elektra, the first- and fourth-place finishers from the Mechanicville, in the Finney. But when other races wouldn't fill, Rice decided to enter Mohegan Sky and Meriwhether Jessica too.

"I would rather have spread them out and found myself a couple of other races that I thought we had a better chance to win," Rice said.

Ahvee's Destiny is 3 for 4 over Saratoga's turf course, but has not run since getting beat a head by Smart and Fancy - the horse to beat in the Finney - in The Very One on May 15. Both Ahvee's Destiny and Smart and Fancy were entered in the $100,000 Jenny Wade at Penn National on July 31, but scratched when that race came off the turf.

Karakorum Elektra is 2 for 2 this year, validating Rice's belief that "she's better this year than she was last year."

Mohegan Sky has lost her last eight starts, but Rice feels her last two starts - a fourth in the Caress at Belmont and a seventh in the Klassy Briefcase at Monmouth - are better than they first look.

"Frankly, she ran a nice race in the Caress at Belmont, and she was getting on track late in the race, closed a lot of ground," Rice said. "I thought she was coming up to a big race at Monmouth and she got a very lackluster, wide, even poor trip."

Meriwhether Jessica, who has finished second in a pair of statebred stakes, has to overcome post 12

"She has enough gate speed, I think, that she can overcome that post," Rice said. "I would prefer if there were five scratches on the inside of us."

The Finney marks the turf debut of Secret Gypsy, winner of the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct in the spring. Trainer Ronny Werner said he's wanted to get Secret Gypsy on the turf for some time.

"She's got some turf in her pedigree and I thought it'd be a good spot to get her running again," Werner said.

Elusive Heat makes return

In the winter, it appeared Elusive Heat would be a candidate for Saturday's Grade 1 Test. But physical issues have kept her away from the races since Jan. 29, and she returns to the races in Sunday's $70,000 Geyser Spring at six furlongs.

"First of all, seven-eighths may be a little long for her," said Angel Penna Jr., who got the filly last month. "The Grade 1 Test is an awful tough seven-eighths, and after such a long layoff I'm not so sure it was the right thing to do, so we opted for the other one, but it's at least her distance."

The Rice-trained Trix in the City could pick up the pieces in this speed-laden field.