05/10/2007 12:00AM

Songster vs. Anew in their '07 debuts


ELMONT, N.Y. - For a few months last spring, there were hardly any better sprinters on the East Coast than Songster and Anew. Both displayed immense talent an hour apart, winning graded stakes at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day.

Neither could carry his success into the summer, and by the end of August, both were done racing for the year.

On Saturday, Songster and Anew will make their season debuts against each other in the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler. As a 3-year-old, Songster was trained by Tom Albertrani for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable. He won the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico by 10 lengths on Preakness Day and the Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup by two on Belmont Day. An overconfident ride by Edgar Prado contributed to his defeat in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, and he was simply outrun when fifth to stablemate Henny Hughes in the Grade 1 King's Bishop in August.

During the winter, Songster was transferred from Darley to Godolphin and moved to the stable of Rick Mettee, who is trainer Saeed bin Suroor's assistant. Songster has been in steady training since January, and is the one to beat from either on or just off the pace.

"I went back and watched all his races, and I think he takes a good pull in his race; he probably isn't the easiest horse in the world to ride," Mettee said. "But he's trained well, and I expect him to come out and give us a pretty good shot."

Prado rides Songster from post 2 under high weight of 117 pounds.

Anew, claimed for $35,000 in the fall of 2005, improved greatly after being gelded in January 2006. He reeled off four consecutive victories, capped by a score in the Grade 2 True North on Belmont Day. He was no match for Silver Train in the Tom Fool and stumbled and injured his foot in the Teddy Drone at Monmouth in early August.

His connections had hoped to bring him back in a starter handicap but couldn't find one to fill. Anew was cross-entered in Saturday's $60,000 Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park, but is likely to run here.

"He needs to run; hopefully he doesn't need a race and the others do, like Songster," said Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.

John Velazquez rides Anew from post 3.

Completing the field are Dark Cheetah, second in this race last year; Dashboard Drummer; and Pavo.