08/03/2008 12:00AM

Thorn Song speedy yet versatile


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Thorn Song was doing so well going into last month's Firecracker Handicap that trainer Dale Romans wasn't overly surprised when his 5-year-old horse upset the multiple Grade 1 winner Einstein in that Grade 2 race at Churchill Downs.

Romans believes Thorn Song is doing just as well heading into Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, where Thorn Song could go off a slight favorite in a contentious 11-horse field. The Fourstardave, run at 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon Turf Course, is the featured event on an 11-race card. There is also a Saratoga T-shirt giveaway Sunday.

Thorn Song won the Firecracker in gate-to-wire fashion, but in an allowance race a month earlier, he came from off the pace to get the victory. There does appear to be other speed types in the Fourstardave, with Inca King, Cosmonaut, and Jungle Fighter in the field.

"He doesn't mind sitting off it," Romans said. "Whatever the race dictates he'll do."

In addition to his versatility, Thorn Song has proven himself at Saratoga, where he won two allowance races over the course last year. It was part of a three-race winning streak that began with a maiden victory at Churchill.

"He's going good right now. When he's good he's tough to beat," Romans said.

Kent Desormeaux rode Thorn Song in his last start, but since he will be riding Big Brown in the Haskell at Monmouth on Sunday, Alan Garcia has picked up the mount on Thorn Song from post 4.

War Monger is out to bounce back from defeats in his last two outings. In the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe at Santa Anita, War Monger finished third. In the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, War Monger was 10th in a race that Thorn Song finished third.

Trainer Bill Mott, who has started off the meet 0 for 16, said in both instances War Monger slipped on slick turf courses. He has run well here in the past and was a strong winner of the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream in January.

Cosmonaut was somewhat of a surprise entrant in the Fourstardave field. He has finished second in his last two starts, both at odds-on. While owner Carl Lizza has kept him eligible for next weekend's Arlington Million, trainer Carlos Martin indicated that Cosmonaut is 80-percent sure to run here.

"This seemed like a good spot to try and take advantage of bringing him back from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a sixteenth," Martin said. "He had broken his maiden here when I had him as a 3-year-old [at 1 1/16 miles]. He was a little disappointing in the Bernard Baruch last year, but that was run over a rock-hard turf course."

Danak, a five-time winner in Ireland, will be making his second U.S. start and first for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Danak finished sixth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in last year's Arlington Million. He has not run since finishing sixth in a Group 2 stakes in Dubai in February. He will get Lasix for the first time on Sunday.

Red Giant, a Grade 2 winner at 3, will be making his 4-year-old debut and first start since last October. Distorted Reality, who suffered two narrow losses here last summer, is another contender in this field.