08/21/2013 3:53PM

Saratoga: Declan's Warrior among 14-horse lineup for King's Bishop

Barbara D. Livingston
Declan's Warrior should get an honest pace to set up his closing kick in Saturday's King's Bishop.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Nick Zito did a bit of a double take when handed the overnight for Saturday’s Travers Day card. That reaction coming after he got his first glance at the field for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, which surprisingly drew a field of 14 3-year-olds, including Zito’s horse Declan’s Warrior.

“It’s very, very shocking to see 14 horses in the race. I never expected that,” was Zito’s immediate reaction. “But I guess in a Grade 1 that’s the deal. Look, it’s racing. Obviously you can’t tell anybody what they can do with their horse. But that’s a lot of horses. It’s very surprising. I didn’t think there would be that many.”

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Zito said, looking on the bright side, a full field likely means an honest pace for the late-running Declan’s Warrior, who rallied from last to finish second in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day but finished fifth in his first start of the Saratoga meet in the Grade 2 Amsterdam.

Zito has tabbled John Velazquez to ride Declan’s Warrior for the first time on Saturday.

“Johnny and I have been lucky together in the past,” said Zito. “Hopefully there’s got to be some speed in there. But obviously we’re going to need a lot of luck getting through the big field.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher entered three of the 14 horses in the King’s Bishop, including Forty Tales, the likely favorite on the basis of three straight graded stakes wins, including the Woody Stephens and Amsterdam. Joel Rosario, who has been aboard for all three of those victories, will be entrusted with working out a trip for the late-striding Forty Tales from post 2 in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop.

Pletcher also entered Capo Bastone, idle since finishing a non-threatening seventh in the Woody Stephens, and Overanalyze, who shortens up to less than a mile for the first time since he won the Grade  3 Futurity going six furlongs last fall at Belmont.

The remainder of the King’s Bishop field consists of Salutos Amigos, who will break from the rail; Slan Abhaile, Majestic Hussar, Bad Hombre, Mentor Cane, likely pacesetter Let Em Shine, Integrity, Central Banker, Miraculousmo, and No Distinction.

East vs. West in Test

Lighthouse Bay, upset winner of the Grade 1 Prioress here on July 27, and West Coast invader Sweet Lulu, who is undefeated and untested in three starts, headline a field of nine 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1 Test.

Lighthouse Bay, who is trained by George Weaver and will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., rallied to a half-length victory at odds of 21-1 to capture the Prioress. Sweet Lulu has won her three career starts by a combined margin of 10 1/4 lengths for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

The two likely favorites will be joined in the gate by Irish Lute, Baby  J, So Many Ways, I’m Mom’s Favorite, Ju Ju Eyeballs, My Happy Face, and Prioress runner-up Wildcat Lily.

Well-matched field for Ballston Spa

Laughing, who led throughout to register a game head decision over Dream Peace in the Grade 1 Diana, will try to duplicate that performance when she returns to face seven other filly and mare turf specialists in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

Laughing will try to outrun a field that includes Centre Court, who disappointed as the 6-5 favorite when finishing fifth and last in the Diana. Centre Court will have a new rider on Saturday with trainer Rusty Arnold tabbing Velazquez to replace Julien Leparoux aboard the Grade 1 winner.

Hungry Island, runner-up in the 2012 Ballston Spa; Pianist, Miz Ida, Somali Lemonade, and Hard Not to Like round out the field.