02/19/2005 12:00AM

Saratoga County sharp for George

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Don Six's Paumonok romp makes him favored in the General George.

Don Six isn't the only rejuvenated sprinter entered in Monday's $200,000 at Laurel Park.

Saratoga County, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham early in his 3-year-old career, enters the General George off two sharp performances, including a 2 1/2-length score in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream last month. If he's able to duplicate that effort, Saratoga County figures to be the major threat to favored Don Six in the Grade 2 race.

A field of nine was entered in the seven-furlong General George, which will go as the final heat on a nine-race card that begins at 12:35 p.m.

After winning the Gotham last March, Saratoga County lost eight consecutive races, though several of his performances were respectable. Things began to turn last fall when trainer George Weaver decided to change his colt's training methods. Instead of working him in company where he would lay on horses and get lazy in the stretch, Weaver put blinkers on Saratoga County in his works and had the rider get after him. Five of his last six workouts have been bullets.

"It seems to have helped," Weaver said. "But also I think he's just doing better."

Weaver also has spaced Saratoga County's races out a little more. He had six weeks between a second-level allowance win and the Mr. Prospector, and 44 days between the Mr. Prospector and this race

"I don't feel like you can run 10, 11, 12 times a year with a sprinter and keep your form," said Weaver, noting the limited 2004 campaigns of top sprinters Speightstown and Pico Central. "I want to space his races out six or seven weeks between races."

Saratoga County will break from post 4 under Javier Castellano at 114 pounds.

Weaver believes the seven furlongs of the General George should benefit Saratoga County while perhaps being a question for Don Six. In two starts for Scott Lake, Don Six has won the Gravesend and Paumonok handicaps, both at six furlongs.

Lake said the seven furlongs is a "worry for us," but added, "he's won going seven-eighths before, but it hasn't been this type of company. Then again, he hasn't been this kind of horse."

Gators N Bears has yet to finish worse than third in nine starts at Laurel. He finished third in this race last year, and comes off a second-place finish behind Don Six in the Paumonok.

California shipper Taste of Paradise, New York Hero, Unforgettable Max, Bocca Al Lupo, Houston's Prayer, and Private Horde complete the field.