05/08/2003 11:00PM

Saratoga pushed back one week


ALBANY, Calif. - Sunday's $60,000-added Saratoga Handicap at Bay Meadows was canceled due to a lack of interest but will be rescheduled for next week.

Only nine horses were nominated for the six-furlong race that would have served as a prep for the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on June 7. Only four horses were entered in the race, and racing secretary Greg Brent decided to bring the race back May 18.

"That would still give horsemen 20 days before the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint," Brent said.

Three of the nine nominees entered in Saturday's $200,000 Grade 3 Los Angeles Times Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Bay Meadows was forced to move its Breeders' Cup Sprint back from last year's May 11 date so as not to conflict with the Los Angeles Times Handicap. It was hoped that the Saratoga would attract horses that didn't want to run at Hollywood Park.

Running a $50,000 optional claiming sprint on Thursday probably hurt as well. The winner, Texas Chili, had run in the Danville and Atherton handicaps in his first two starts of the year. Although owner-trainer Bill Morey Jr. was looking for an easier spot than a stakes race, he might have entered the Saratoga if he had no other options.

Trainer Art Sherman entered My Captain, winner of a fast $50,000 optional claimer on April 18, in the Saratoga but refused to enter Presidio Heights to make the race go, even knowing that he could scratch his speedy sprinter.

"My Captain is no slouch. He's a good horse getting better and better. I think My Captain is coming up to a great race," Sherman said.

The decision also means that El Dorado Shooter, who would have been favored in the Saratoga, will have to wait at least a week for a final prep before the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Seven runners will meet in the new Sunday feature, a $62,500 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Handyman Bill, winner of an allowance race at Santa Anita in his last start, and After the Run, winner of an allowance race here in his last start, will be looking for their second straight victories.

Handyman Bill looks the one to beat with three wins and a second in his past four starts.