08/31/2008 12:00AM

Thou Swell live off his last


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After two big performances at long odds, Thou Swell carries some credentials into Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac at Saratoga.

The 1 3/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds drew a field of eight, including Marlang, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

A month ago, in his first try against winners, Thou Swell set the pace and finished second by a half-length to Wesley in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes. That effort followed a maiden victory on July 12 at Belmont Park in which he rated off the pace and quickened late to win by a head.

Trainer George Weaver said he had mixed emotions after the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

"He ran very well to be second," Weaver said. "It was a double-edged sword. I was proud that we were able to go from a maiden into that race and have such a good showing at 26-1, but I felt like we were so close to pulling it off."

Weaver said jockey Jean-Luc Samyn put Thou Swell on the lead because there was no pace, and the Sugartown Stable colt managed to deliver a kick in the stretch.

"My horse is still learning," he said. "If he had a few more races under his belt, he probably would have had a better chance of getting it done."

Weaver will remove blinkers from Thou Swell's equipment for the Saranac.

Marlang has been most effective during his seven-race career when he has set or pressed the pace. A homebred son of Langfuhr owned by Gustav Schickedanz, he won the one-mile Charlie Barley on June 21 at Woodbine in his first race on turf, but was the beaten favorite in the Toronto Cup on July 12 when he broke poorly. He led at every call in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes.

Nistle's Crunch returns to turf after finishing fifth in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. Before the Haskell, Nistle's Crunch was third in the American Turf at Churchill Downs and second in the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs.

Trainer Kenny McPeek said the decision to run in the Haskell was made because the owners live in New Jersey and the colt was bred in the Garden State.

"We took a shot at the Haskell to see how he would do there, but he has run well on the grass," McPeek said. "He's run well on the Polytrack and he's run decent on the dirt. He's pretty versatile. He ran well at the mile and three-sixteenths distance at Colonial. We'll give him another try."