08/26/2008 12:00AM

Zito has strong hand to play


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Nick Zito will have both quality and quantity on his side in Thursday’s $80,000 Halfmoon overnight stakes at Saratoga. The Halfmoon is written for fillies and mares who have not won an open stakes in 2008.

Three of the six horses entered for the seven-furlong Halfmoon comes from Zito’s powerful stable, including likely favorites Silver Knockers and Debbie Got Even, who finished second and third behind Over Forli in the Lillian Russell Stakes earlier in the meet. Zito also entered Striking Tomisue, who would be coupled in the wagering with Debbie Got Even if both were to start.

“I won’t run all three,” said Zito. “I’ll probably go with Silver Knockers and Debbie Got Even. I’m just happy the race went so I can get a chance to run the two of them before the end of the meet.”

Silver Knockers chased the pace throughout before finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Over Forli in the Lillian Russell. The outing was the first for the 4-year-old Silver Deputy filly since she finished a troubled eighth in the Grade 1 Test here last summer. Silver Knockers drew post 6 for Thursday’s race.

“I’m pleased she drew a good post,” Zito said. “I’m just looking to get her back going and into the winner’s circle again.”

Debbie Got Even, who finished just in front of Silver Knockers in the 2007 Test, has hit the board in three of her four starts this year. She will break from post 5 after coming away a step slowly from the rail in the Lillian Russell.

Are We Dreamin, a third-level optional claiming winner 17 days earlier, Drama Lady, and Iron Butterfly complete the lineup.