11/03/2009 12:00AM

Spy in the Sky back on flat for prep


It's not every day a Grade 1 winner can use a first-level allowance as a prep for a major stakes, but that's exactly what Spy in the Sky will be doing in Thursday's seventh race at Aqueduct - a three-turn marathon scheduled for the turf course at 1 3/8 miles.

Spy in the Sky posted one of the biggest upsets of the summer at Saratoga, when he rallied from far back to win the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase by better than 10 lengths at 20-1.

Freshened up a bit by trainer Jimmy Day following a fourth-place finish in the Lonesome Glory early at Belmont, Spy in the Sky is targeting the Colonial Cup down at Camden two weeks from Saturday.

"He ran a big race in the Lonesome Glory, but he was giving a lot of weight away, and they just went so slow the first mile," said Day, referring to Red Letter Day's methodical front-running score.

Although Spy in the Sky is primarily a steeplechaser, his first victory came over the flat on the turf at Gulfstream Park, and he was in the money in a pair of allowance races at Colonial Downs in early summer before winning over the jumps at Saratoga for the second consecutive year.

"He was running on in those races, but just ran out of ground," said Day of the Colonial Downs races. "Those races were a bit short for him, but the mile and three-eighths should be perfect."

There will be ample pace for Spy in the Sky to run at, because the field also includes another horse dropping out of a Grade 1 race: Chapin Beach, who was a front-running maiden winner at Thursday's distance at Saratoga before showing the way to the top of the stretch in the Jamaica at nearly 50-1 for trainer Mark Hennig.

Also in the mix are the New York-breds Solvent, Hangingbyathread, and Piazza Di Spagna, the 3-6-8 finishers from the Mohawk on closing day at Belmont.

Solvent, closed gamely in the Mohawk to miss second in a photo at 63-1, and recorded a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 94. Trained by George Weaver, he has not raced on turf at Aqueduct since a maiden victory back three years ago

Race 8, a first-level allowance for New York-breds at a mile, shapes up as a rematch between Star of New York and Fiddlers Patriot, a pair of lengthy maiden winners in the slop across town.