08/10/2010 12:37PM

Rice looking for big week at Saratoga

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Linda Rice hopes Monday’s last race at Saratoga was a harbinger for the rest of the meet.

Rice, who became the first woman to win a Saratoga trainer’s title last year, won Monday’s finale with the debuting 2-year-old Higher Desire. It was her seventh win from 20 starters through the first 16 days of racing. While that ties her for third in the standings with Bill Mott, she still has a lot of work to do to catch the loaded-for-bear Todd Pletcher, who has 13 wins from 54 starters. Chad Brown is 10 for 25 thus far.

Rice has a chance to make up some ground this week as she has horses entered in 13 of the 27 flat races run Wednesday through Friday. That includes In Te Domine, who looms the horse to beat in Thursday’s $100,000 Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The 1 1/16-mile turf race is restricted to progeny of New York-based stallions.

In Te Domine has two wins and two seconds from five starts. Her only bad race came May 23 at Belmont when in a first-level statebred allowance race she was wide and rank under Ramon Dominguez while contesting the early pace before fading to fifth, beaten eighth lengths. Rice noted that In Te Domine was running back just 18 days off a maiden win, which came off a seven-month layoff.

“She was a little hot in the paddock and she was on the outside that day, and he didn’t get her covered up from the break and she just ran off with him,” Rice said.

Given six weeks to her next start, In Te Domine was visually impressive winning a first-level statebred allowance race by 3 3/4 lengths. In Te Domine stretches out to 1 1/16 miles and two turns from seven furlongs. Last year, she finished second in her debut, which came in a two-turn maiden race here.

“I think she’s fine at the distance, I think she just lacks two-turn experience,” Rice said.

Bretton Woods wheels back just 11 days after winning a maiden race here by a nose. Trainer George Weaver noted that in Bretton Woods’s previous start, she got upset in the paddock, resulting in a fifth-place finish.

“We did all the paddock schooling for her race up here, and it turned into a win,” Weaver said. “This is a restricted race, and it’s a good opportunity for those horses eligible. Usually, it doesn’t come up super tough.”