Schulhofer Has Pair in Bernard Baruch

William Sorokolit Sr.'s Union Place, and Blue Sky Farm and Fred Martin's Irish Colonial make trainer Randy Shulhofer a double threat for Friday's feature at Saratoga, the $150,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT). The nine-furlong feature has drawn a field of eight, with Nothing to Lose the 117-pound highweight.

Edward P. Evans' Gygistar, entered for main track only, becomes the 123-pound highweight and horse to beat if the race is moved to the dirt. Heavy, day-long rain on Tuesday knocked out grass racing on the opening day of Saratoga's 136th meeting. Only one turf race was carded on Thursday.

Union Place showed a world of promise during his 3-year-old campaign in 2002, winning the Calder Derby (gr. IIIT) and placing in Saratoga's National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and Belmont's Jamaica Handicap (both gr. IIT). Few, however, took notice of the horse in last year's Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT). And Union Place ran accordingly, finishing a distant sixth at 34-1.

With the exception of a slim victory in an allowance race in March, his entire 4-year-old season was a mirror image of his Baruch. It was a washout.

Though some may find it a little surprising, Union Place has all but erased his disappointing season last year thanks to his return to top form in 2004. He nearly pulled off the victory at 50-1 in the Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) in April at Aqueduct before posting a gritty allowance victory at Belmont on June 4.

On Friday, Union Place will look to build upon his promising 5-year-old campaign when he starts in the 46th running of the Bernard Baruch Handicap at the Spa. Eight males were entered in the body of this nine-furlong grass race which will be contested over a rain-softened inner turf course.

Union Place, a son of Out of Place--Charming Kain, by Lomond, shouldn't be too far off the early lead under jockey Javier Castellano, who is coming off a tremendous Belmont summer meet where he won 50 races, good for third-place in the standings behind John Velazquez and Edgar Prado.

"The horse has been training well," said Schulhofer, who also entered Irish Colonial in the Baruch. "Nothing went right for him last year. He had some bad luck and it was basically a disaster. We were scratching our heads because nothing was wrong with him. For me, watching him bounce back as a 5-year-old has been great."

Union Place has a 4-4-0 mark from 14 starts at the Baruch's nine-furlong distance. There is a good chance, though, that the soft turf he is likely to encounter on Friday will prove a hindrance. "It is a big concern," said Schulhofer. "He's better on firm turf."

Union Place carries 113 pounds, four less than Ken Ramsey's Nothing
to Lose.

His stablemate might not prefer a soft turf course, but Irish Colonial relishes it. A New York-bred son of Colonial Affair--who won the 1993 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for Schulhofer's father, Hall of Fame trainer "Scotty" Schulhofer--Irish Colonial won the restricted Kingston Handicap in May of 2003 over a bog-like course. Two weeks later, he finished a decent seventh behind Denon in the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT), which was contested in a driving rainstorm on Belmont Stakes day.

Irish Colonial enters the Baruch off a third-place finish in a third-level allowance on July 9. He vied for the lead before weakening in the final furlong.

"I think it was a case of him doing a little too much too early," Schulhofer said. "I'd like to see him back off a little early. He'll run better on Friday."

Irish Colonial will be ridden by jockey Jean-Luc Samyn.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has dominated the Baruch since the late 1990s, winning four of the last six runnings. Mott entered Silver Tree, who was third in the Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) on July 10 at Belmont. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, a six-time winner of the Baruch, pilots Silver Tree.

Bailey entered the Saratoga meet needing eight wins to tie fellow Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr.'s all-time Spa victory total of 640.

Peter Vesgo's homebred Silver Tree, a son of Hennessy--Blue Begum, by With Approval won the Virginia Derby as a 3-year-old in 2003. This year, he is 2-0-1 from five starts.

Silver Tree has raced 10 times on the turf, but has never competed over rain-softened ground. Mott said he does not know how the colt will handle it.

"It would be a concern because we've never had him on a real soft course," he said. "If it's got a little cut in the ground, it might be to his advantage. Real firm ground didn't benefit him in the Poker."

Nothing to Lose finished second to Silver Tree in a Belmont allowance race on June 16, but was making his first start in nearly three months so he might be able to turn the tables on that rival.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, Nothing to Lose finished a close third to the Sword Dancer-bound Request for Parole in Monmouth's United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) in his last start. He broke his maiden at first asking here at Saratoga in August 2002 and has won over "good" courses in the past.

Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT), $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf, Friday, July 30, approx. post 5:15 p.m. EDT

PP--Horse, Jockey, Wgt.
1--Quest Star, Paty Day, 114
2--Evening Attire, Edgar Prado, 112
3--Irish Colonial, Jean-Luc Samyn, 113
4--Quiet Ruler, Robby Albarado, 111
5--Mr. Light, Richard Migliore, 113
6--Silver Tree, Jerry Bailey, 116
7--Nothing to Lose, John Velazquez, 117
8--Union Place, Javier Castellano, 113
9ae--Gygistar, no rider, 123