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Dec 02, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


Over Thanksgiving weekend in New York and Kentucky we may have seen the future. Well at least we may have seen the winner of next year’s Kentucky Derby. Two year old races for both genders were run in both states and we did see some solid prospects.

At Aqueduct on November 26th, they hosted the Grade II Demoiselle for fillies and the Grade II Remsen for two year olds, both races were run at 1 and 1/8th miles. In the Demoiselle there were only five horses with the longest shot in the race, WONDER LADY ANNE L getting the job done. After stalking the pace of one of the three Todd Pletcher trainee’s, WAIT A WHILE, while racing in third he was able to run down another Todd Pletcher trainee in CINDERELLA’S DREAM. Pletcher had three out of the five horses in the race and finished second, third and fourth with CINDERELLA’S DREAM, WAIT A WHILE and LOVE LOCKET respectively.

In the next race the Remsen, Pletcher had better luck when his BLUEGRASS CAT (3-5) went wire to wire to score by almost two lengths. After stumbling at the start of the race, he quickly recovered to set a moderate pace, took on a challenge from FLASHY BULL and put that one away for the win. Since moving into the Pletcher barn BLUEGRASS CAT hasn’t lost yet and looks like he could have a big impact next year as the two year olds turn to three and the road to the Kentucky Derby begins.

At Churchill Downs they ran the equivalent of the two races at Aqueduct, the Grade II Golden Rod for two year old fillies and the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club for two year olds, both races were run at 1 and 1/16th miles. In the Golden Rod eight two year old fillies went to the gate. The pace was fast as BEAU DARE and SHE SAYS IT BEST battled through a half in 47:1 before SHE SAYS IT BEST, took over the lead and drew off into the stretch only to get run down in the final strides by FRENCH PARK, the 8-5 favorite. With that win FRENCH PARK ran her record to a perfect 3 for 3 and she should be one to reckon with next year if she continues to improve.

In the Kentucky Jockey Club PRIVATE VOW who had a broken rein in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was sent off as the 3-5 choice. He didn’t disappoint as he stalked the leader from the two spot he took over as they entered the stretch and drew away for 2 ¼ length win. The leader HIGH COTTON, another Todd Pletcher trainee came back to reclaim the place spot. The win ran his record to four wins from six starts with one second place finish. He should be one of the top two year olds heading into next year and his tactical speed will always make him dangerous.

In addition to the two year old races Aqueduct and Churchill Downs they also hosted races for older horses. The big race at Aqueduct was the Grade I Cigar Mile also run on Saturday November 26th which had a field of 11 horses with the slight favorite (5-2) BADGE OF SILVER. As Todd Pletcher continues his record breaking year as the leading money earning trainer he entered three horses in the Cigar Mile. At the top of the stretch his VALUE PLUS had the lead at 55-1 but began to tire as they hit the 1/8th pole, MASS MEDIA took over the lead but was quickly collared by another Pletcher trainee PURGE, who finally put it all together to score going away by almost four lengths at 25-1. MASS MEDIA held on for second with GYGISTAR checking in third. BADGE OF SILVER never lifted a hoof and checked in 8th.

In the Grade II Top Flight for fillies and mares three year old and upward on Friday November 25th, STELLAR JAYNE went out a winner in her final race of her career running down a Todd Pletcher trainee for the score as the odds-on choice.

At Churchill Downs on Friday November 25th they hosted the Grade II Clark for three year olds and upward at 1 and 1/8th for a purse of $500,000. This race went to leading Horse of the Year contender SAINT LIAM in 2004 so this year’s renewal would be interesting to see who emerges as a force for next year. It might start to sound like a broken record but yet again, Todd Pletcher got the job done with MAGNA GRADUATE, a three year old who fought back to beat the favored SUAVE. MAGNA GRADUATE was moved into the Pletcher barn earlier this year and has done nothing wrong, he is going to be one to watch for next year in the handicap divison.

In the Falls City Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, a Grade II for fillies and mares three year olds and up, Pletcher took this race with INDIAN VALE. Her only loss coming at Philadelphia Park when Angel Cordero Jr. came back to ride her and she had trouble handling the track. This is yet another budding star for the Pletcher barn.



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