06/09/2006 11:00PM

Songster gets redemption


ELMONT, N.Y. - An outside post, a dry track, and a stellar ride by Edgar Prado helped Songster gain a measure of revenge on Too Much Bling in Saturday's $250,000 at Belmont Park.

Two months ago, Too Much Bling posted a nine-length victory over Songster in the Grade 3 Bay Shore, run over a sloppy Aqueduct main track. Too Much Bling hadn't run since, while Songster won the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

Saturday, Too Much Bling was stuck down on the inside, while Songster was nicely drawn on the outside. The Grade 2 Woody Stephens - formerly the Riva Ridge - originally had a field of nine, but scratched down to a field of seven.

Fabulous Strike, under Harry Vega, broke on top and set fractions of 22.31 seconds and 44.96 for the opening half-mile. Too Much Bling, under Garrett Gomez, chased from the inside, while Prado had Songster directly outside of Too Much Bling down the backsiide.

Entering the far turn, Songster moved into second as Too Much Bling dropped back. Songster drew alongside Fabulous Strike in upper stretch while Too Much Bling was coming again along the rail. Songster took control inside the eighth pole and drew clear in the final 50 yards to win by two lengths.

Songster covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.45 and returned $7.70 to win.

"What a difference a track makes," said trainer Tom Albertrani. "His only bad race was in the Bay Shore over a sloppy track.

"Fabulous Strike ran a super race," he said. "Actually, it worked out better for us, because it helped Edgar keep Too Much Bling down on the inside, so it was a good heads-up ride Edgar gave the horse."

Prado said Songster showed him a lot more today than he did winning the Hirsch Jacobs.

"The last race, he was out there for exercise," Prado said. "Today, he showed a lot of courage. He keeps improving mentally. This is a beautiful horse that has a lot of talent."

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Too Much Bling, said he felt that Vega, aboard Fabulous Strike, was race-riding his horse.

"That Vega, he must have been working for Prado," said Baffert. "He rode my horse the whole way. I knew we were in trouble when we drew the one-hole."

Albertrani said Songster would be pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 26.