Songster to Get a Tune-Up in Amsterdam S.

(from Saratoga report)
Upon further reflection, trainer Tom Albertrani decided to give his standout 3-year-old sprinter Songster a start in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course.

Albertrani had considered training the Darley Stable speedster up to the $250,000 King's Bishop (gr. I) at seven furlongs Aug. 26, but decided on using the six-furlong Amsterdam as a warm-up instead. Songster has not been out since his powerful victory in the Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup (gr. II) June 10.

"When we were looking at the schedule, we thought there was too much time in between his last race and the King's Bishop," Albertrani said. "Because he's doing so well, the Amsterdam would be a good prep for him heading into the King's Bishop. Also, if the track is muddy for the King's Bishop, we probably won't run. All of this makes the Amsterdam better for him. He has at least this race to run."

Having Songster run over a wet track has been a concern for Albertrani. In the Bay Shore (gr. III) over a sloppy Aqueduct track on Wood Memorial Day, Songster tried to stay with Too Much Bling through a half mile before Baffert's colt pulled away to a nine-length victory.

"It doesn't seem he can handle the off track, even in training," Albertrani said. "We've noticed he doesn't gallop as easy as he would over a fast track. He's just uncomfortable over a sloppy track."

In five career starts of seven furlongs or less, the son of Songandaprayer has won three, including the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (gr. III) on Preakness Day at Pimlico and the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day.

"His last two races were huge," Albertrani said. "I think his race in the Hirsch Jacobs was a stronger performance than the Woody Stephens because he was fresh. When he's fresh, that's when he's at his best. I believe there's more to come."

Darley Stable is also entering Changing Weather in the Amsterdam. The Eoin Harty-trained colt has finished behind two of the top sprinting 3-year-olds in two stakes races: Henny Hughes in the Jersey Shore (gr. III) and Too Much Bling in the San Vicente (gr. II).

George Bolton's Noonmark gets another shot at Songster after finishing third in the Woody Stephens in his last start.

Robert Manfuso's Court Folly, trained by former Carl Nafzger assistant and exercise rider Ian Wilkes, was third in the Swale and second to Changing Weather in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. Wilkes hopes a quick pace from Songster could help set up his horse's late-closing running style.

$150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:47 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs
Saratoga - July 31st, 2006 - Race 8
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Saint Daimon (FL), 119, Jean-Luc Samyn
2. Changing Weather (FL), 121, John Velazquez
3. Noonmark (KY), 115, Shaun Bridgmohan
4. El Nino (KY), 117, Cornelio Velasquez
5. Songster (FL), 123, Edgar Prado
6. Court Folly (KY), 115, Calvin Borel