08/17/2003 11:00PM

Traffic Chief one to catch in Albany

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The first four finishers in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes last month meet again in Wednesday's $150,000-added Albany at Saratoga.

Six 3-year-olds entered the 1 1/8-mile Albany, the final leg of the Big Apple Triple for New York-breds. Bossanova, who is sidelined with an injury, won the first race in the series, the Mike Lee at Belmont Park on June 28. Traffic Chief was a three-length winner of the second leg, the New York Derby on July 26. It was Traffic Chief's fourth win in five starts.

Traffic Chief controlled the pace in the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby and is the main speed here, under jockey Jose Santos.

"His last race simply gave me more confidence in the horse," said Traffic Chief's trainer, Mike Hushion. "He went over to Finger Lakes and really took charge of that race."

Traffic Chief, the likely favorite, drew post 6.

A horse that could be sitting on a big effort is Acceptable Venture, who won his last start in a second-level allowance race here on Aug. 4 at the Albany distance.

"We were either going to work him or run him," said Dale Romans, Acceptable Venture's trainer, of the allowance race. "He was the best horse in the race and it should set him up good for this."

Jerry Bailey rides Acceptable Venture, who drew post 5 and figures to stalk Traffic Chief in the early running.

Spite the Devil and Go Rockin' Robin, second and third in the New York Derby, both won graded races this year, but have thrown in some clunkers since those wins.

Go Rockin' Robin, the winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont in the slop in May, will be equipped with a tongue tie. He also gets a new rider in the white-hot John Velazquez.

"I thought [Go Rockin' Robin] should have run better than he did at Finger Lakes; he should have kicked in and didn't," trainer Scott Schwartz said. "He always plays with his tongue and it could be he was playing with his tongue that day."

After wining the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in May, Spite the Devil has lost his next three starts, including a last-place finish in the Mike Lee.

Bo Bo's Vice is coming off a 14 3/4-length loss in the New York Derby. To Go exits a win in a 10-furlong grass race, in which he controlled the pace through slow fractions.