Updated on 09/17/2011 11:11AM

State Shinto to play stand-in

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Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has his hopes on State Shinto in Saturday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has to skip Saturday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup with Abreeze, but he hopes he has a capable substitute in State Shinto for the Grade 2 race.

Abreeze, who finished second behind Evening Attire in last year's Saratoga BC, missed some training time during the summer because of a fever. McLaughlin said Abreeze is breezing well, but he wants to find an easier spot for the 8-year-old's first start since June 1, when he won an allowance race at Belmont Park.

In the 1 1/4-mile Saratoga BC, State Shinto will return to the dirt for the first time since finishing fifth in the Dubai World Cup on March 29. In two starts since the World Cup, State Shinto won a classified allowance race at 1 1/4 miles on the grass and finished fifth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap. State Shinto was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the Bowling Green, which was won by Whitmore's Conn, who returned to win last weekend's Grade 1 Sword Dancer.

"Some of State Shinto's better races have been on the dirt, even though he has more wins on the grass," McLaughlin said. "The distance is the key with him. Ten-furlong races on the dirt are hard to come by."

It was unclear Tuesday morning who would ride State Shinto, who was ridden by Richard Migliore in his two starts in this country. Migliore is also the regular rider of Brooklyn winner Iron Deputy, who will run in either the Saratoga BC or the $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth Park on Aug. 23.

Migliore was aboard Iron Deputy when the horse worked over the Oklahoma training track on Tuesday morning. The clockers timed Iron Deputy in 1:01.09, the fastest of 13 works at five furlongs on a track labeled good.

After the work, Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Iron Deputy for John and Susan Moore, said a decision between the Saratoga BC and the Iselin has yet to be made.

Harlan's Holiday, another Saratoga BC probable, worked in company with Brighton Ridge after the renovation break on the main track on Tuesday. Harlan's Holiday was credited with a five-furlong move in 1:00.74 on a good track.

The 122-pound highweight for the Saratoga BC is Volponi, who finished second to Medaglia d'Oro in the Whitney on Aug. 2. Harlan's Holiday is next in the weights with 121 pounds. Iron Deputy and State Shinto each were assigned 115 pounds. The other expected starters are Puzzlement (113), Blue Boat (112), No Comprende (112), and Nothing Flat (111). Almuhathir (112) is listed as possible by the racing office.

Not many challengers for Spoken Fur

The $750,000 Alabama on Saturday will have a small field. The expected starters are Spoken Fur, who is seeking to win a $2 million bonus in the Grade 1 Alabama after victories in the Mother Goose and Coaching Club America Oaks, Awesome Humor, Bird Town, Fircroft, and Island Fashion. City Fire is a possible starter.

Trainer Rick Violette said Tuesday morning he was "50-50" to run Savedbythelight in the Alabama. If she doesn't run in that spot, Violette will enter the filly in the next day's $150,000 Lake Placid on the grass.

"It's handy that the races are one day apart, so it doesn't make a whole lot of difference in training," he said.

In her last start, Savedbythelight finished third in the CCA Oaks, six lengths behind Spoken Fur.

Savedbythelight won a maiden race on the grass last year at Belmont after finishing second on turf to Ocean Drive, who has blossomed into a stakes winner, in her career debut during the 2002 Saratoga meet.

Violette said he doesn't want to run Savedbythelight in the Alabama just so she can "fight hard to be third."

Working for the Alabama on Tuesday, Island Fashion covered five furlongs in 1:00.74 on the main track.

Zonk retired

Zonk, a graded stakes winner with earnings of $559,476, has been retired.

John Servis, who trained Zonk, said the 5-year-old didn't come out her last race in ideal fashion. In that race, Zonk finished seventh in an overnight stakes at Belmont Park on July 16.

"It was time to send her home," Servis said. "She was a very nice filly."

Zonk, a daughter of Farma Way, won back-to-back runnings of the Affectionately at Aqueduct and also won the Delaware Oaks. She retires with a record of 7-5-1 in 21 starts.

Servis said he didn't know whether Zonk's owner, Richard Porter, would keep the mare to breed or sell her in November at Keeneland as a broodmare prospect.

- additional reporting by David Grening