08/22/2007 11:00PM

Teuflesberg should handle Hard Spun


NEW YORK - Of all the big stakes races Saratoga has, and it boasts a bucketful of them, none is bigger than the $1 million Travers Stakes, which highlights Saturday's national stakes schedule. And in support of the Travers, the King's Bishop, the Bernard Baruch Handicap, and the Victory Ride Stakes will also be run at Saratoga. Let's hope the forecast for possible heavy rain in upstate New York on Saturday proves wrong. Elsewhere, Monmouth Park offers the Molly Pitcher, Arlington hosts the Arlington Sprint Handicap, and Del Mar has the Solana Beach Handicap.

King's Bishop Stakes

Hard Spun is a quality animal who I think has the potential to be a first-rate miler. But even though he has natural speed, I'm concerned that after competing in nothing but two-turn races in all seven of his starts this year he is going to get outquicked in this spot cutting back to seven furlongs. If Hard Spun were to somehow offer betting value, then it would be reasonable to take a shot that he could overcome the drastic cutback in distance on his class. But with seconds this year in the Kentucky Derby and Haskell Invitational, Hard Spun will not offer betting value. So, I'm looking to beat Hard Spun with this year's iron horse in the 3-year-old division, Teuflesberg.

Teuflesberg ran respectably in a turf prep for this race earlier in the Saratoga meet and will love the switch back to a dirt sprint, conditions under which he ran big in his prior two starts. On the Belmont Stakes undercard, Teuflesberg was tons the best winning the Woody Stevens. He overcame a slow start to win going away over Most Distinguished, who flattered Teuflesberg when he came back to win the Amsterdam Stakes in his next start. After that, Teuflesberg was a strong second in the Carry Back Stakes, forcing the pace of the California speedball Black Seventeen, and giving that opponent all he could want before grudgingly conceding. Notably, the Carry Back was run on a wet track, and a wet track is what Teuflesberg might catch Saturday.

Solana Beach Handicap

Bai and Bai is certainly the best horse in this race. After all, she comes off a game second to the nation's top older filly or mare, Nashoba's Key. But this race will be run on turf, and whether Bai and Bai is the best turf horse in here is open to debate. The fact is, her best turf efforts aren't nearly as good as her best dirt or synthetic performances, so she seems vulnerable.

I like Spenditallbaby, who, in the spirit of Teuflesberg, will incredibly be making her fourth start of the Del Mar meet. Spenditallbaby will appreciate the class relief after competing in last Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Before that, she was a rallying third in the Grade 2 San Clemente while getting the kind of favorable hot pace she is in line to get again this time. And while it is true Spenditallbaby will face older opponents Saturday, the drop from graded stakes company to statebred competition should more than compensate for that.

Bernard Baruch Handicap

Although the weather forecast is not promising, this race is easily the most important of the five turf stakes scheduled to be run on the flat the rest of the Saratoga meet. In other words, I expect NYRA to go to great lengths to keep this race on the grass. But under the circumstances, bettors handicapping in advance should anticipate this event being run on off going.

With that in mind, I like Gun Salute. Gun Salute recently returned from a layoff in top form, finishing a close third behind the high-class pair of Shakespeare and Art Master. As a 3-year-old, Gun Salute showed how effective he can be on deep going when he won the American Derby and upset another high-class performer in English Channel in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. Moreover, his trainer, Bill Mott, is having an outstanding Saratoga meet.