08/11/2004 11:00PM

A whole new Spa for Stewart and Co.


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Success at Saratoga has been fleeting for Dallas Stewart the last three summers, during which he compiled a less-than-satisfying 7-for-84 mark.

This summer, however, Stewart is getting the best of the Spa, having already sent out three winners from the first 10 horses he has saddled. And Stewart says he believes he's far from finished.

Stewart, who has never won a Saratoga stakes race, has three solid chances in the next two weekends to do just that. Saturday, he'll send out Clock Stopper in the Grade 2, $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and Silverfoot in the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer. Next Saturday, he will send out Storm Surge in the Grade 1, $250,000 Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Stewart, a 44-year-old native of McComb, Miss., offers little excuses for his recent troubles at the Spa.

"We brought some nice horses up here in the past and some of them have gotten outrun, and that's just how it goes," said Stewart, who has been coming to Saratoga regularly since 1998.

Stewart's runners won't be favored in either stakes race here Saturday, but it wouldn't be shocking if they took home the top prize in one or both of them.

Silverfoot, owned by the Chrysalis Stables, last raced in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park. He finished second behind Ballingarry, but was disqualified and placed fourth for a bumping incident at the quarter pole.

"I thought personally he should have won last time," Stewart said. "He had a bad trip."

Two starts back, Silverfoot won the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap over a yielding turf course at 1 3/8 miles. In that race, he beat Rochester, who is one of the contenders in the Sword Dancer. Though Silverfoot is 0 for 2 at 1 1/2 miles, Stewart says the distance "is good for him. He's a big, rangy gelding that can run all day."

Clock Stopper, a 4-year-old gelded son of Gilded Time, was just beaten a nose in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 10. The only time Clock Stopper has been worse than second in eight tries at six furlongs was May 20, when he was fourth, beaten two lengths in his first start in seven months.

"He's doing really well; he's going to run his race," Stewart said. "The first race this year he needed that race. He ran well and came up a little short. He came back [in the Smile] and ran 1:08 and change."

Clock Stopper is owned by Overbrook Farm, which has played a major role in Stewart's success. Stewart, who worked as an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas for 11 years, has the majority of his 45 horses for Overbrook, including 14 babies that were sent to him this year. Among those 2-year-olds is Storm Surge, who won an entry-level allowance race here Aug. 4.

Storm Surge won his maiden May 29 and was then beaten a neck by Lunarpal in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on July 5. Stewart said he felt Storm Surge had lost some weight following that race, which is why he elected to skip the Sanford here July 29.

"I'm just trying to think long range with him," said Stewart. "We talked about it and we said if we could win either one of these, the Hopeful would be the one we'd want to be at our best for."

Stewart says he has more bullets to fire in the maiden ranks at this meet. Weather Alert, a 2-year-old filly who stumbled at the start of her debut at Churchill, will likely run here. Stewart also has a colt by Silver Charm and another by Commendable that have been working well.

"We have some nice horses we've run here and a couple of nice horses left to run," Stewart said.