04/12/2010 11:00PM

Affirmatif goes in softer spot


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even amid the momentous build-up toward the 136th Kentucky Derby, life goes on for the rest of the Todd Pletcher stable. With Pletcher back in Florida on Sunday, the day after he was at Keeneland to see Interactif run fourth and Aikenite eighth in the Blue Grass Stakes, the Kentucky division of the Pletcher powerhouse soldiered on, with Ginny DePasquale continuing to oversee a handful of horses at Keeneland and Michael McCarthy looking after a considerably larger contingent at Churchill Downs.

One of Pletcher's non-Derby horses is the Keeneland-based Affirmatif, whose career debut at Gulfstream Park in February 2009 registered an eye-popping 100 on the Beyer Speed Figure scale.

Pletcher had Affirmatif all set to run last Saturday on the Blue Grass undercard in the Shakertown Stakes, but it might be just as well that the colt was scratched to fight another day, given the ferocious battle staged by the victorious Silver Timber and his classy opposition in that Grade 3 turf sprint.

Instead, Affirmatif will return Wednesday from a seven-month layoff as one of nine older horses in the $58,000 feature, a 5 1/2-furlong second-level allowance on the turf. With the exception of a poor outing in the Virginia Derby, Affirmatif was consistently swift and strong last year in his seven-race 3-year-old campaign, and the likelihood of him returning to that performance level will make him the solid favorite in Wednesday's eighth race.

Garrett Gomez will be aboard Affirmatif when the Unbridled's Song colt breaks from post 4. His strongest challenges could come from Evacuation Route, a last-out winner at Fair Grounds, and Whitley, who makes an interesting turn-back from longer races for trainer Rusty Arnold.

* Two other allowances are on the card. In race 5, a second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, Lethal Combination could go favored over Cat Park and another Pletcher returnee, Fantastico Roberto.

Race 7, a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack that drew seven fillies and mares, sports a wide-open look, with maybe Patti's Regal Song worthy of a slight nod over Distinctively, Tarrip, and Pearl of Valor.

First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.