LAUREL -- Linda Rice wasn't certain until yesterday that Double Booked, the gelding she trains, has sufficient early speed to set the pace in the $750,000 Budweiser International on Sunday.
"What about Fly Till Dawn, the horse from California?" she asked. "Does he come from out of it [off the pace] and win?"
Told that Fly Till Dawn had stayed in second position early in two races and won, Rice, 26, said: "Maybe they'll let him stay just off the lead, then try to come on and win."
The pace is the main thing for Rice, who has sent out Double Booked to lead at the first quarter in each of his past eight starts.
Double Booked gave up the lead in all but one of those races. That was the Kelly-Olympic Stakes at Atlantic City Race Course, at 1 1/8 miles.
Double Booked has earned $238,593 in 33 starts. In 13 turf races, he has won $204,550.
"He was running for $20,000 [in claiming races] on the dirt when I got him," Rice said. "He was racing at Detroit Race Course, which doesn't have a turf course."
Double Booked began racing about the time Rice began training horses three years ago. Her father, Clyde Rice, is well-known as a trainer.
Double Booked won five of 13 races on the turf and earned a share of three others.
"He's rarely under 20-1," Rice said of the gelding who will be 20-1 or higher in the International.
Double Booked's worst race this year was in the New Hampshire Sweeps Handicap at Rockingham Park.
"There was a speed horse named Tuned Tip in the race," Rice said. "He went for the lead, and Art [Madrid, jockey on Double Booked] went with him. We were seventh, beaten 10 3/4 lengths. Tuned Tip was eased."
When your horse is 20-1 many times, it takes some close study to make a case for him, but Rice can do it.
"The third choice in the International is Ten Keys," she said, "and we finished ahead of him in the Arlington Handicap. Double Booked was second and Ten Keys third."
The trainer also said that in the Longfellow Handicap at Monmouth Park last year, Double Booked won over Yankee Affair, considered one of the better turf horses in the nation.