08/12/2002 11:00PM

Spa-loving Aslaaf puts blinkers on


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, whose runners have been hot at the meet, has a horse for the course in Aslaaf for Thursday's $52,000 allowance feature at Saratoga.

Aslaaf has a win and two seconds in three turf starts at Saratoga. A 4-year-old son of Quiet American, Aslaaf is coming off a second-place effort as the favorite in a third-level allowance race run here on July 31.

Thursday's race carries the same allowance conditions and will be run at one mile on the inner turf.

Eight older males entered the race, including two front-runners, River Rush and Tap the Admiral.

McLaughlin, who has a record of 4-5-2 in 15 starters at the meet, has put blinkers back on Aslaaf. The blinkers were taken off in the last race because McLaughlin thought the colt acted a bit too keen with them on in a turf race this spring.

"I put them back on because at the quarter pole in his last race he lost interest for a minute and looked like he would be fifth, but then came back on," McLaughlin said.

Pat Day picks up the mount on Aslaaf. Jerry Bailey, aboard Aslaaf for his last two starts, sticks with the Bill Mott-trained Peak Dancer. Aslaaf drew post 2.

River Rush, coming off a 3 1/2-length win over a soft course at Saratoga, figures to show the way early. A Strodes Creek gelding, River Rush controlled the pace to win a second-level allowance Aug. 3 over the favorite, Yankee Gentleman.

River Rush's trainer, Lisa Lewis, said this race is a little quick back, but that the next race in the condition book for River Rush is at 1 1/16 miles, which is too far for him.

"Anything over a mile is too far for him," Lewis said. "He's got real speed. It will be hard to get in front of him. If someone goes with him, it might kill us, but it might kill them."

Peak Dancer is somewhat of an enigma. A 5-year-old, he hasn't run since January and has raced on the turf only once, with a so-so third-place finish. His popular connections, Mott and Bailey, are sure to drive the price down on Peak Dancer.

Windsor Castle, who is trying the turf for the first time, hasn't won a race since capturing the Grade 2 Remsen as a 2-year-old in 2000.

Jaki's Magic, Montecastillo, and For Love and Honor complete the field.

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