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Oct 13, 2006

Pletcher, Bernardini and Lava Man had great weekend

By: By Don Agriss - Horse Racing Editor, SPORTS NETWORK

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The weekend just past saw Todd Pletcher establish a new record for earnings in one year by a trainer. Bernardini move from just being the best three-year-old in training, but also a serious contender for Horse of the Year, and Lava Man is now the top older race horse in North America.

Todd Pletcher continues to dominate thoroughbred racing, re-setting the record he broke last year for earnings in one year. In 2005 he finished with $20,867,842. With a little less than three months remaining Pletcher shattered his own mark and is on his way to $25 million.

Pletcher finished last week with $22,425,624. His horses took three Grade 1 stakes at Belmont Park, plus the $500,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Breeders' Cup Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

The next record that Pletcher is approaching are the 92 stakes that D. Wayne Lukas won in 1987. Pletcher has captured 91 stakes races this year, including 50 graded stakes. Lukas has the single season mark of 53 graded stakes.

Bernardini destroyed three over matched competitors on Saturday in the $750,000 Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park. The colt drew off to win the 1 1/4 mile race by 6 3/4 lengths. Bernardini will win the Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old and a victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic will make him Horse of the Year.

"He’s a special horse, and that kind of a horse is hard to find," said Bernardini's jockey Javier Castellano. "He’s my spoiled baby."

Trainer Tom Albertrani got exactly what he wanted in the Gold Cup from Bernardini and now gets ready for the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.

"I've got a fresh horse for the Breeders’ Cup now," Albertrani noted. "He does things so easily, I don't know if anyone can give him the kind of race where he was to fight."

"I think it will come down to Lava Man, Invasor and us for Horse of the Year," continued Albertrani. "We'll train as we always have and look forward to the next one."

Invasor, who is on a three stakes winning streak, missed the Jockey Club Gold Cup due to an elevated temperature the previous week. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will condition the four-year-old colt up to the Breeders' Cup.

Out in California, Lava Man maintained his perfect record for 2006. He posted a 2 1/4 length win in the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita Park. He has won all seven starts this year without leaving California.

"We're very proud and excited to take on horses outside California," trainer Doug O'Neill stated. "We got to prove to ourselves that he can win outside California. A lot of East Coast people are skeptical of horses that come from California."

Depending on Lava Man's finish at Churchill Downs, the gelding can also come away with two Eclipse Awards. A healthy Invasor with Bernardini and Lava Man sets up the Breeders' Cup Classic to be an all-time confrontation.

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