Updated on 09/16/2011 8:41AM

Saarland back for a second try

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Saarland, second in the Gotham and fourth in the Wood, has not raced since he was injured in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 10th.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Saarland, away from the races since injuring himself in the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to make his return to the races in a Friday allowance race at Aqueduct.

Saarland is part of an entry with Easing Along, and trainer Shug McGaughey has named John Velazquez on both horses, meaning one must scratch. McGaughey said he would run Saarland provided "everything is in order."

Saarland, who won the Remsen nearly a year ago, finished 10th as the co-second choice in the Kentucky Derby on May 4. The next morning, X-rays showed a chip in his left front ankle. The chip was surgically removed.

McGaughey had hoped to have Saarland back to the races earlier than this, but the colt developed a problem with a hind foot at Saratoga that delayed his training. Saarland, who finished second in the Gotham and fourth in the Wood Memorial this year, has been working steadily since early October and most recently breezed a half-mile in 49 seconds at Belmont last Friday.

"He's been training pretty well, aggressive," McGaughey said. "He's filled out somewhat the last month or two."

McGaughey said this allowance race, for nonwinners of three races lifetime at one mile, is to get Saarland started for a possible winter campaign at Gulfstream Park. An early 2003 target could be the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 22. Last year, McGaughey did not feel Gulfstream's main track suited Saarland.

While it would be difficult to get excited at taking a short price on Saarland in his return, it is equally as difficult to get excited about betting anyone else in the field.

Romolo's Fritzi was away from the races for 18 months when he made his return in a second-level allowance at Belmont on Sept. 28. But he caught a muddy racetrack and finished last. If he can revert back to his previous form - he had two wins and two seconds from four prior starts - he could be dangerous.

Paynes Bay, a $1.6 million yearling purchase in 1999, makes his first start since March 2 and his first since being switched from trainer Todd Pletcher to Carl Domino. Paynes Bay does show a front-running allowance win at Aqueduct and figures to be one of the pacemakers from the rail.

Dial a Hero was beaten three lengths by repeating winner Onthedeanslist in an Oct. 26 allowance race. Trainer John DeStefano tries to shake things up by taking the blinkers off Dial a Hero, who breaks from post 6 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

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