08/16/2009 11:00PM

Rice sends two in Saratoga turf sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Awakino Cat seeks his second win of the Saratoga meet in Monday's $70,000 Troy Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With a meet-leading nine victories through Saturday, Linda Rice has undoubtedly become a major story line of the first three weeks of the Saratoga meet. So it is only fitting that as the first half draws to a close with Monday's $70,000 Troy Stakes, Rice is the main story yet again.


Rice will send out the uncoupled entry of Awakino Cat and Kaper Lake in the Troy, scheduled for 5 1/2 furlongs on Saratoga's outer turf course. All nine of Rice's victories have come on the turf, four in turf sprints.

Awakino Cat gave Rice her second win of the meet on July 30, rallying from fourth to win the Quick Call Stakes by one length over True to Tradition, who is back in this heat. Though Awakino Cat is coming back 18 days after a career-best Beyer Speed Figure, Rice is hopeful he can give another winning effort.

"He's acting well. I think he likes this course better than the Monmouth course," said Rice, noting that Awakino Cat ran two subpar races at Monmouth. "If he didn't care for the course I wouldn't bring him back so soon."

Rice said another reason she is running Awakino Cat back so quickly is because "with turf sprint horses, when you have the opportunity to run, take it. It's a limited season, the weather's a factor."

Awakino Cat is a half-brother to Dynaski, the 6-year-old gelding who won last Thursday's Ben Nevis restricted steeplechase stakes at 2 1/16 miles.

Rice claimed Kaper Lake for $25,000 out of a winning effort on dirt earlier on that July 30 card. This is the gelding's turf debut in his 20th career start. "There's a good chance he could move his game up on turf, or he might be a dirt horse," Rice said. "Might as well find out."

The Troy came up deep. Among those who look intriguing is Sixthirteen, a speedy 5-year-old son of Dixie Union who will be making his turf debut. Earlier this meet, trainer Mike Hushion won a turf sprint with the 5-year-old Sammarco, also making his turf debut.

"I don't think he cares about what he's running on," Hushion said. "He's a grip-it-and-rip-it type of horse."

If he grips and rips, there may be no catching Sixthirteen, who will try to avoid getting heat from True to Tradition.

Atticus Kristy, an 8-year-old gelded son of Atticus, has 10 wins at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, including four stakes scores. He could work out a sweet stalking trip under Julien Leparoux.

Storm Treasure, Due Date, and I've Got Speed will be flying late.