09/01/2009 11:00PM

True Quality back in stakes spotlight


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With no standout among the group, a field of 12 was entered for Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Forego Stakes at Saratoga. One of the more intriguing members of the field is True Quality, whose victories in the Paumonok and General George handicaps in the winter established him as one of the higher-ranked sprinters on the East Coast before myriad issues took him off the radar screen.

One major reason True Quality has made just one start since April was that his former owner, the Paraneck Stable, was forced to disband after animal cruelty charges were filed against the stable's authorized agent, Ernie Paragallo, in the spring. Paragallo's daughters, Kristen and Jennifer, were listed as the official owners of Paraneck, but have since forfeited their licenses.

Paraneck's attempts to sell True Quality were met with much scrutiny from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. At one point the board did not recognize a sale to Joe Sgro's Fever Racing Stable and the board scratched True Quality from the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont in July. At that time, the board was convinced that Paragallo was still involved in some way with the horse, perhaps in part because trainer Joe DeMola had also trained for Paraneck.

While New York would not permit the colt to run, Pennsylvania did and True Quality finished seventh in the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National on Aug. 1.

Since then, Sgro has changed the name of his stable to Quality Racing and has hired Roy Sedlacek to be his trainer. Sedlacek will saddle True Quality on Saturday.

"He's been training too good to pass it up,'' Sedlacek said.

True Quality had been hampered by quarter cracks, but Sedlacek said Wednesday that the colt's feet have improved.

"He wasn't wanting to train for a few months,'' Sedlacek said. "His feet got better, he wanted to do it. He's really turned around.''

Though True Quality won the General George at seven furlongs, Sedlacek said he believes the horse is better at six and is hoping to get him to the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Oct. 3.

True Quality breaks from post 11 in a 12-horse field that includes Kodiak Kowboy, Pyro, Gold Trippi, My Pal Charlie, Peace Chant, and Riley Tucker.

Asmussen to run three in Hopeful

Trainer Steve Asmussen is expected to enter three horses in Monday's Grade 1 Hopeful, the closing day feature at Saratoga. Enumerate, runner-up to Backtalk in the Grade 2 Sanford here on July 30, heads the group, which also includes Grand Slam Andre and Prince Rooney.

Grand Slam Andre, a son of Grand Slam, has won listed stakes at Lone Star and Remington Park in his last two outs. Prince Rooney, a son of Tale of the Cat, has won both of his starts, including the Mountaineer Juvenile by 15 lengths on Aug. 1.

"The races they've won aren't exactly the Sanford, but they're running fast enough that they warrant good chances,'' said Scott Blasi, Asmussen's assistant.

Edgar Prado will ride Enumerate, Jesus Castanon will be on Grade Slam Andre, and Shaun Bridgmohan will be aboard Prince Rooney.

Backtalk, who has won all three of his starts including the Sanford, arrived in Saratoga at the beginning of the week and galloped here on Wednesday. Others expected to run include Aikenite, Dublin, Honor in Peace, One Note Samba, Overlap, and Westover Wildcat. Trainer Rick Violette plans to run either Not Macho Any More or Bulls and Bears. Successful Score and Flatter Than Me are possible.

Wednesday, Westover Wildcat worked a sharp five furlongs in 59.76 seconds over the main track. Enumerate went four furlongs in 50.44 seconds over the Oklahoma training track.

Final Refrain seeks more Spa success

Trainer Al Stall has been patiently waiting for the racing office to card the $80,000 Voodoo Dancer Stakes. His wait will end late Friday afternoon when the Stall-trained Final Refrain heads a field of 10 entered in the 1 1/16-mile race over the inner turf. The race was originally in the condition book for Travers Day.

This will make the fourth straight year Final Refrain has run at the Spa. She finished second in her career debut in 2006 and won a race in both 2007 and 2008. Overall, she has a 2-1-2 record from 5 starts at the track.

"She's done well here like she always does,'' said Stall, who brought the horse in from Keeneland last week "We're dying to run. [The delay] worked out best because she had more time to acclimate.''

Final Refrain enters the Voodoo Dancer off a stakes victory at Ellis Park. That win broke a seven-race losing streak, dating back to a second-level allowance win here on Aug. 1, 2008.

Remarkable Remy is also a horse-for-course, having gone 2 for 3 here. Other contenders include Leamington, Belle Allure, My Baby Baby, Savoir Bien, and Colina Verde.

Gold Cup next for Summer Bird

On Monday, Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Summer Bird will ship by van to Belmont Park, where he will most likely make his next start in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 3. Trainer Tim Ice said it is "99 percent'' certain that's where Summer Bird will run.

Summer Bird went back to the track on Wednesday morning, jogging around the main track.

"He was bucking and playing and feeling good,'' Ice said.

Ice said he wants to stay in Saratoga and scout possible Gold Cup competitors running in Saturday's Woodward.

"I want to watch the Woodward, see how things shape up,'' Ice said. "Most of these horses could come back for the Gold Cup.''

Asked who he thought would win the Woodward, Ice said, "Rachel. It should be an exciting race watching her take on older males. I don't think it'll be an easy race unless she steps up and runs like she has every time.''

The last time Rachel Alexandra ran, she beat Summer Bird by six lengths in the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

* The New York Racing Association hopes to play to a younger demographic by attempting to lure college-aged men and women to the track on Friday. The inaugural College Day will feature the chance to win $1,000 scholarships after each race as well as opportunities to win iPods, iTunes gift cards, digital cameras, and other prizes. All students will receive free grandstand admission with a valid college ID.