08/29/2013 4:43PM

Saratoga: Silver Max has the speed in Bernard Baruch

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Barbara D. Livingston
Turallure won the 2011 Bernard Baruch.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After a long, hard, albeit successful 3-year-old season, Silver Max had gotten off to a rough start to begin his 4-year-old campaign.

If his last race was any indication, Silver Max is back on his game. After rolling to a 5 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Oceanport last month at Monmouth Park, Silver Max will be the horse to catch and beat in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga.

Silver Max will face six rivals in the Bernard Baruch, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course, none who appears to possess the early speed that served him well winning 7 of 10 starts, including five stakes, at 3.

Trainer Dale Romans said that last year’s campaign may have had a lingering effect on Silver Max, who had won only one of his first four starts this year before the Oceanport.

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“I squeezed the lemon pretty hard last year,” Romans said. “You’re only 3 once. You got to hit all the 3-year-old races.”

In the Oceanport, Silver Max flashed his 3-year-old form, getting to the front easily under Robby Albarado and cruising to victory, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

“That last race was as good as he’s ever run,” Romans said.

Robby Albarado will ride Silver Max from post 7.

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Potentially the one horse who could keep Silver Max within his sights early is Tetradrachm, who won a swiftly run third-level allowance race here on Aug. 3 in his first start for Bill Mott.

“He was quite impressive,” Mott said. “He laid a little bit close.”

Turallure won the 2011 Bernard Baruch and would win that year’s Woodbine Mile before getting beaten a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He ran a solid race when finishing second by a head to Seal Cove in an optional claiming race here on July 24.

Charles LoPresti, the trainer of Turallure, believes his horse is more versatile than people think and will talk to Julien Leparoux about keeping Turallure closer to the pace.

“I got to get it through to Julien that I don’t think he needs to be sitting back there trying to come from out of the clouds,” LoPresti said. “Because that horse is really good right now, he’s really sharp. I think he can lay a little bit closer.”

Za Approval, the 121-pound highweight, won the Appleton at Gulfstream and the Red Bank at Monmouth – both Grade 3 races – before finishing second to Obviously in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.

Trainer Christophe Clement scratched Za Approval from the Fourstardave because of soft turf. Za Approval should get his preferred firm ground on Sunday, but he too could be compromised by lack of someone to run with Silver Max.

“I’m not going to tell Joe [Bravo] how to ride him,” Clement said. “He won on the horse, he’s a graded stakes horse, it’s a Grade 2, he’s got to ride his race.”

Paris Vegas, So Long George, and Willyconker complete the field.