Augustin Stable's favored Praise the Prince made a successful Saratoga comeback Thursday, winning the $79,600 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (NSA-II) at 2 1/16 miles by a half-length.The 9-year-old Prince of Praise gelding got some unexpected help from 22-1 Barzulu to win this race for the second time. He previously won the Smithwick in 2001.Praise the Prince and Barzulu hooked up for the final jump, after Praise the Prince wrested the lead from Tres Touche. Barzulu, a New Zealand-bred making his American debut, presented a real problem for Praise the Prince, but as he landed after the last jump, he bobbled under jockey Gerry Carwood. That was the edge Praise the Prince needed, and he came inside to scamper home for the victory under busy jockey Robert Massey in 3:41. Najjm, at 60-1, made a huge rally late to come up just short.It was the first start for Praise the Prince since winning the New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I) at Saratoga last year. Fully recovered from a tendon injury he will again point for the Sept. 2 Cup."He's just an extraordinary horse," said an emotional Sanna Hendriks, Praise the Prince's trainer. "He doesn't know when to say `when.' I think any other horse would have been beat. When he sees another horse in front of him, he just wants him. "It's been a long road back. You never know until you put them out there, but I thought he should run pretty well. This should set him up nicely for the New York Turf Writers Cup. The thing that will be the problem is that he will carry top weight in the Turf Writers."Praise the Prince, who shared high weight of 154 pounds with two others, returned $3.90, $2.90 and $2.80 for his 11th win in 35 career starts. Massey picked up the mount when Gus Brown suffered a broken leg in a training accident.Najjm returned $29.20 and $12.80. Barzulu held on for the show, with paid $7.70.
Tres Touche, Indispensable, Party Airs, Santenay, Tallow and Saitensohn followed. (Chart, Equibase)