Stay Thirsty looks to recapture Spa magic touch

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A year after sweeping the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes as a 3-year-old, Stay Thirsty returns to the scene of his last victory in Saturday's $750,000, 1 1/8-mile Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Stay Thirsty, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano, is winless in four starts since taking the 2011 Travers and faces six in the Woodward including Mucho Macho Man, winner of the July 7 Suburban Handicap at Belmont in his last start and ranked among the nation's leading older thoroughbreds.

''He's rounding back into his best form,'' trainer Todd Pletcher said of Stay Thirsty. ''I think he's training as well as he ever has. Everybody's making a big deal about his so-called losing streak but he's only run four times since the Travers last year. We've regrouped and freshened for this and I like the way everything's coming together.''

Despite having won three of four races this season including a career-best effort in the Suburban, 4-year-old Mucho Macho Man enters the Woodward without a Grade I title to his credit.

''We're ready to go,'' trainer Kathy Ritvo said. ''He's training very well.''

Mike Smith will ride the 8-5 morning-line favorite.

Trainer Bill Mott will put To Honor and Serve on the track Saturday. He blames a poor effort behind Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban on the 4-year-old's dislike for extremely hot weather and anticipates a better effort in the Woodward.

''I think he'll run well if we get a decent day,'' Mott said. ''We were extremely disappointed with his race in the Suburban.''

The field in post-position order: Rule (Ramon Dominguez), Gourmet Dinner (Alan Garcia), Mucho Macho Man (Smith), Trickmeister (Irad Ortiz), Stay Thirsty (Castellano), To Honor and Serve (John Velazquez), Cease (Joel Rosario).

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