12/08/2009 1:00AM

Saarlight returns to action


Saarlight, a 3-year-old filly who showed flashes of brilliance during the first half of the year, returns from a layoff of nearly six months in Thursday's featured eighth race at Aqueduct, a $47,000 optional claimer with second-level allowance conditions at six furlongs.

Saarlight, who has not been out since setting a fast pace and fading late in the $200,000 Jostle Stakes at Philadelphia Park in June, was scratched from last Saturday's Garland of Roses in favor of this spot.

"First time back from a layoff, the allowance might be a little easier," said Art Magnuson, who is deputizing for suspended trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "It had nothing to do with the [sloppy] track," he said. "We thought we'd enter in both and take a look at the stake."

Saarlight ran a big race in a muddy Nassau County early at Belmont Park's spring meet, when she traded punches on the front end with Flashing, who went on to win Grade 1 stakes at seven furlongs and 1 1/8 miles.

Though Saarlight had no "official" injury coming out of the Jostle, the decision was made to give her some time off.

"She has tiny little feet, which have been a problem, and she was moving a little 'scratchy,' " said Magnuson, "but she is training very well now."

Saarlight, whose last start in allowance company was a front-running win with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure on Aqueduct's main track in April, looks like the main speed in a field of nine, though Indian Rush, trained by Karl Grusmark, posted three wire-to-wire wins at Finger Lakes this season and could try to make a race of it early.

Indian Rush was entered for the optional $50,000 claim price, as were five others, including Salt Water Reign and Motor City Mama - a pair of battle-tested New York-bred mares with multiple wins on the inner track.

Salt Water Reign, returning from a five-month layoff, has garnered all but one of her five career victories on the inner track, including back-to-back scores last winter for Steve Klesaris.

Motor City Mama, a three-time winner on the inner track, comes off a career-best effort for Chris Englehart, who is fresh off a seventh consecutive training title at Finger Lakes. Englehart saddled 158 winners to smash his old record of 141, and with three weeks left in the year ranks sixth nationally in wins.