07/01/2009 11:00PM

Sweetnorthernsaint out to end skid


For the second time in three years, Finger Lakes has managed to lure a Kentucky Derby horse to western New York for the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap.

Sweetnorthernsaint, the beaten favorite in the 2006 Derby won by Barbaro, will try to follow in the footsteps of Funny Cide when he takes on nine older horses in Saturday's $50,000 Wadsworth at 1 1/8 miles.

The Wadsworth (race 8) is the co-feature on a card that also includes the $50,000 Niagara, a six-furlong sprint restricted to New York-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Two years ago, 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide made the final start of his career when he captured the Wadsworth. On Saturday, Sweetnorthernsaint, runner-up in the 2006 Preakness after finishing seventh as the 5-1 favorite in that year's Derby, will try to snap a six-race losing streak.

Now 6, Sweetnorthernsaint showed signs of life when he made his first start since coming to trainer Steve Klesaris's barn, missing by a neck in a high-priced optional claimer at Belmont Park. The Beyer Speed Figure of 95 he earned was his best since he got a 93 for winning an overnight stakes at Calder last August.

Sweetnorthernsaint's most dangerous opponents appear to be Tommasi and Senior.

Tommasi, a 7-year-old based at Saratoga with H. James Bond, was third in last year's Wadsworth after finishing fourth behind Funny Cide in 2007. He relishes racing at nine furlongs, as evidenced by his win and close third in a pair of stakes restricted to New York-breds last summer at Saratoga.

Senior is returning to dirt after finishing far back in Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes on turf. He may need a wet track to perform at his best, however. Senior is 0 for 6 on fast dirt and posted his career-best Beyer of 99 going 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy track in the H.E. Johnson Memorial Handicap at Laurel Park in March.

Songstressofdubai and Kalulu, both easy winners in their career debuts locally, are the two most intriguing fillies in the Niagara (race 7). Both are adding Lasix for their first start against winners.

The fastest Beyers on dirt belong to Sezzana and Gold for the Queen. Sezzana earned a 69 for her head win over first-level allowance foes in an off-the-turf race at Belmont. That's the same figure Gold for the Queen got twice in a row facing restricted company at Belmont. She disappointed at 8-5 racing over a sloppy track in her first start locally.