07/28/2011 3:59PM

Saratoga: Morning Line works toward Whitney

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Barbara D. Livingston
Morning Line worked five furlongs Thursday at Saratoga, his final drill for next week’s Whitney.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Nick Zito has two wins, three seconds, and two thirds in the last 10 runnings of the Whitney.

“I love that race,” Zito said. “It’s one of my favorite races. We’ve done well in the Whitney.”

Zito said he hopes to continue that trend when he sends out Morning Line in this year’s renewal of the Whitney on Aug. 6 at Saratoga, which is shaping up to be the race of the meet. Morning Line is one of five Grade 1 winners expected to run in a 10- or 11-horse field. The Whitney winner earns an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

On Thursday, Morning Line put in his final drill for the Whitney, working five furlongs in 1:00.84 over the Oklahoma training track. Morning Line breezed in fractions of 12.34 seconds, 24.47, and 48.75.

“He galloped out unbelievable,” Zito said. “I don’t know how much stronger he could have been. He’s fit now. I look for a big effort from him.”

Morning Line won the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct in April and was being pointed to the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in May but was forced to miss the race because of a foot problem. Zito had to run Morning Line in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park on July 4 when an overnight stakes didn’t fill at Belmont at the end of June. Morning Line finished fifth to Kensei.

At Aqueduct, Rail Trip worked six furlongs in 1:12.94 for the Whitney.

Others expected for the Whitney are Apart, Duke of Mischief, Flat Out, Friend or Foe, Giant Oak, Mission Impazible, Rodman, and Tizway.

European import debuts for Mott

Starformer, a group-stakes-placed runner in France, makes her U.S. debut for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott in Saturday’s $75,000 Hattie Mosley Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the inner turf course. Starformer is by Dynaformer out of the mare Etoile Montante, a Group 1 stakes winner in Europe and a multiple graded stakes winner in North America for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Starformer came to Mott in early June and has worked three times for him. Sunday, she worked a solid five furlongs in 59.80 seconds in company with Aviate, whom Mott is running in Saturday’s Grade 1 Diana.

“She’s done well,” Mott said. “Sort of a typical Dynaformer, always ready to go. I’ve watched her races on tape, and she looked like she had a stalking style over there. They might run a little slower early than we do.”

Jose Lezcano will ride Starformer from post 8.

The Moseley drew a field of 10, including Ruthenia, a full-sister to Rutherienne, who was a nine-time graded stakes winner and earner of more than $1.2 million. Ruthenia is coming off a third-place finish behind Bellamy Star in the Xtra Heat Stakes at Belmont on June 5. Bellamy Star came back to finish second to Winter Memories in Wednesday’s Lake George.

Ruthenia can get a little anxious in the paddock, which is why trainer Christophe Clement said, “I hope she’s ready to handle the Saratoga experience.”

Other contenders in the Moseley include Ms Silver Oak, My Redbyrd, and Artisanal.

Contessa duo eyes Albany

Trainer Gary Contessa won the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple with Preachintothedevil, who won the Mike Lee Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths at Belmont, and Socialsaul, who won the New York Derby by 4 1/4 lengths over Preachintothedevil at Finger Lakes. Both are being pointed to the $100,000 Albany Stakes here Aug. 24.

On Thursday, both horses worked over the main track, with Socialsaul going five furlongs in 1:04.15 and Preachintothedevil covering the same distance in 1:01.05.

“I think Socialsaul had the best trip the other day,” Contessa said. “Preachintothedevil made a hell of a run after stumbling at the start and having a [bad] trip. They both deserve a shot at the Albany.”

* Ibboyee, second in last year’s Albany, worked four furlongs in 49.48 seconds Thursday in preparation for a start in next Wednesday’s $75,000 John Morrissey at 6 1/2 furlongs. Ibboyee is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Met Mile.