08/03/2005 11:00PM

Take In the Gold to kick home late

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NEW YORK - Saratoga has full command of the national stakes spotlight Saturday with a Grade 1 stakes doubleheader consisting of one of the most prestigious events on that track's outstanding schedule, the $750,000 Whitney Handicap, as well as the $250,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Meanwhile at Del Mar, 2-year-old fillies who would love to contest the 2006 edition of the Test will do battle in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes.

Test Stakes

This is often a very funny (funny strange, not funny ha-ha) race. Fillies with six-furlong speed tend to come unglued in the seventh furlong, setting it up to be won by a deep closer, as was the case last year with Society Selection. With that in mind, I'm looking for a filly coming out of longer races who has a finishing kick, and In the Gold fits the bill perfectly.

In the Gold comes into this off a rallying second in the nine-furlong Kentucky Oaks and a third in the one-mile Acorn, a particularly good effort. In the Acorn, In the Gold made a big run to the lead in midstretch, only to be passed late by Round Pond and headed for second by Smuggler. Round Pond was one of the best 3-year-old fillies in the nation until she was injured in the Delaware Oaks, while Smuggler came back to win the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks.

Cutting back to a sprint off route races is a pattern that has worked before for In the Gold. After finishing second in two 1 1/8-mile stakes at Gulfstream, she shortened up to about seven furlongs in the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland and won with a last-to-first rally.

The one reservation about In the Gold on Saturday is that her trainer, Nick Zito, has gotten off to a slow start at the Saratoga meet, having lost with his first 13 starters there as of this writing. But you know Zito won't stay cold forever, and perhaps that will help In the Gold's price just a bit.

Whitney Handicap

It goes without saying that Saint Liam will take a lot of beating in this race. He has won Grade 1 races in two of his last three starts, and has earned Beyer Speed Figures of 110 or higher in four of his last five starts to rank as the top active older male in the country right now. But this is Saratoga. And while Saratoga isn't the "graveyard of favorites" it is cracked up to be, Secretariat was beaten in this race. If a Secretariat can be upset in the Whitney, then I can certainly take a flier on a longshot I believe is coming up to a big effort.

That longshot is Swingforthefences. Swingforthefences's first two races this year were very good, especially a second in the Westchester Handicap in which he earned a Beyer of 112, which smashed the previous career best he earned winning his first outing of 2005. He did not run as well last time out in the Tom Fool, but that was over a sloppy, sealed track that he may not have cared for.

Swingforthefences strikes me as being much improved this year, but what is also interesting about him is that after making all three of his starts this year around one turn, he is finally stretching out to two turns. He should be very comfortable with the added distance since all nine of his starts last year were around two turns.

Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile Handicap

What a tremendous claim Mr. Mabee has turned out to be, and I think he'll enhance his case for claim of the year with a win here.

Mr. Mabee was taken for a mere $17,500 out of a win at Hawthorne in April. His two starts since were his first two starts on turf, and he didn't just win them, he won them in overwhelming fashion, including the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes most recently. Mr. Mabee projects to sit a beautiful ground-saving trip, and as sharp as he's been since moving to turf, he should capitalize.

Saturday

Saratoga: Test Stakes
Fillies, 3-years-old, 7 furlongs

Approximate post: Eastern-4:47 p.m., Central-3:47 p.m., Mountain-2:47 p.m., Pacific-1:47 p.m.; Saratoga Springs, N. Y., forecast: Sunny, 80 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Leave Me Alone10288917-2
2Pomme Frites87698012-1
3a-In the Gold9887988-5
4b-Maddalena9277873-1
5Acey Deucey9382798-1
6Aspen Tree80839510-1
7b-Sense of Style8779803-1
8Lady Pegasus81848312-1
9Flying Glitter95858015-1
10a-Hide and Chic10298968-5

Coupled: In the Gold and Hide and Chic; Maddalena and Sense of Style; odds by Art Gropper

Arlington Park: Sea O'erin B.C. Mile Handicap
3 and up, 1 mile, turf

Approximate post: E-5:23 p.m., C-4:23 p.m., M-3:23 p.m., P-2:23 p.m.; Arlington Heights, Il., forecast: Sunny, 82 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Fort Prado9597947-2
2Old Deuteronomy80926415-1
3Remind104921028-5
4Mr. Mabee9690794-1
5Gondolieri78105983-1
6Gin and Sin96919512-1
7Parker Run99899810-1

Track morning line odds

Saratoga: Whitney Handicap
3 and up, 1 1/8 miles

Approximate post: E-5:20 p.m., C-4:20 p.m., M-3:20 p.m., P-1:20 p.m.; Saratoga Springs, N. Y., forecast: Sunny, 80 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1a-Sir Shackleton101100983-1
2Saint Liam1111011146-5
3Wiggins103898530-1
4a-Commentator121951123-1
5Swingforthefences9511210320-1
6Eurosilver10610010310-1
7Limehouse961121027-2
8Pollard's Vision1041041096-1

Coupled: Sir Shackleton and Commentator; odds by Art Gropper