09/01/2006 12:00AM

Tempo of Saranac up to Amigoni


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With the versatility he has shown, Amigoni may be in a position to dictate the way the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac is run Sunday on the Mellon Turf Course at Saratoga.

None of the nine 3-year-old colts entered in the 1 3/16-mile Saranac has shown a penchant for speed. Amigoni, however, has used a tactical style that has allowed him to be on or near the pace in all three of his U.S. starts.

Fourteen horses were entered in the Saranac, but only 10 may start. The field includes French Beret, a Mark Frostad trainee who ships in from Canada after winning the Toronto Cup and finishing second in the $502,000 Breeders Stakes; Spider Power and Green Lemon, the second- and third-place finishers in the National Museum of Racing Stakes; and Murch, a closer who won an allowance after finishing sixth in the Grade 2 American Derby on July 22 at Arlington Park.

Amigoni, a son of Danehill trained by Graham Motion, enters the Saranac after finishing third by 1 3/4 lengths in the American Derby. He was later moved up to second because of a disqualification. By design, jockey Todd Kabel kept Amigoni right in the thick of the pace battle.

"He's pretty adaptable. You can pretty much put him where you like," Motion said. "Todd felt last time that it was hard to make up ground at Arlington, and he purposely laid him a little closer. I would imagine that's probably going to be his style, to lay a little close."

Amigoni started his career in Europe last year with trainer Aidan O'Brien and was a Group 3 winner at the Curragh. For Motion and owner David Soifer, Amigoni finished second in an off-the-turf optional claimer at Pimlico and finished first but was disqualified and moved to second in an optional claimer at Colonial Downs on July 2, one start before the American Derby.

"I think he's an improving horse," Motion said. "I thought he ran very well the last time. It was a big step up from the allowance he won at Colonial, which he got taken down in. He's been a little unlucky, really."

Trainer Helen Pitts said Murch's performance in the American Derby, where he was beaten 2 3/4 lengths, confirmed that he is a stakes-caliber horse.

"I was tickled to death with the way he ran," she said. "First, you walk in the paddock and you're 99-1, then you go off at 71-1, and you end up getting beat two lengths. I was pretty happy. I thought he ran a huge race."