01/17/2002 12:00AM

'Saratoga' looks to wire 'em

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Saratoga Blues, who has recorded open-lengths victories in his two career starts, is the stronger half of a Tony Dutrow-trained entry that should be the strong favorite in Saturday's Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel.

The $40,000 Miracle Wood drew seven entries, but Saratoga Blues looks like a stickout in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. After blitzing a maiden special field by 11 3/4 lengths at Laurel Nov. 24, the colt came right back with a score in a first-level allowance over the inner track Dec. 20 at Aqueduct. He led at every call in both races, although in his most recent start he was tested a bit in the stretch by runner-up Robins Beauty before drawing off to a 2 1/2-length win. He recorded a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for his one-other-than victory, making a nice step up from the 80 he earned in his race at Laurel. From his rail post, Saratoga Blues will be a formidable presence on the front end.

Coach Knight, Dutrow's other starter in the Miracle Wood, is more seasoned than his stablemate and could be sitting on a big race. A son of the distance-loving Belmont winner Editor's Note, Coach Knight has placed in two stakes and has two wins in five starts overall. He returned to the races on New Year's Day off a brief freshening and turned in a respectable effort, finishing a wide third as the 6-5 favorite in the Dancing Count. He was perhaps overbet that day, considering the layoff and the fact that six furlongs is probably not his optimum distance. Coach Knight will be much tighter for the Miracle Wood and will enjoy the stretch-out.

Mario Pino is named on both halves of Dutrow's coupling, indicating that one of his entrants will likely be a scratch.

Todd Pletcher looks to get some black type for Smoked Em, as he ships the colt in from New York off his maiden victory over the inner track. Smoked Em had the look of a good one, winning by 8 1/2 lengths after bobbling at the start in his first effort around two turns. With a Beyer of 88, he measures favorably with the favorite, and figures to attract significant support at the windows.

Oswayo won three of his first four starts, including the Pennsylvania Futurity, and has competitive Beyers in sprints. He faltered badly, however, in his lone two-turn start, the Count Fleet at Aqueduct, where he faced two nice 3-year-olds in one-two finishers Iron Deputy and D'Coach.

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