02/29/2012 4:39PM

Aqueduct: Pletcher in unaccustomed role for Tom Fool, Top Flight

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Tom Keyser
Caleb's Posse, winning last fall's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile,will make his 4-year-old debut in the Tom Fool on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher is used to playing the role of hunted when it comes to graded stakes races. This weekend, at Aqueduct, Pletcher will play the role of hunter in a trio of graded events at Aqueduct.

In the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham, Pletcher will send out Raconteur and Dan and Sheila against Hansen, the champion 2-year-old male of 2011.

Earlier on the card, Pletcher will saddle Calibrachoa against Caleb’s Posse in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap and Love and Pride against It’s Tricky in the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap.

Though Calibrachoa won the Tom Fool last year and is coming off a dominant victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan last month, he will be no better than the second choice behind Caleb’s Posse, who makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last November.

“Maybe we’re catching him at the right time,” Pletcher said of Caleb’s Posse. “He’s a come-from-behind sprinter so he’d benefit from a fast pace scenario.”

The Tom Fool drew a solid field of six and there does appear to be ample speed in the field. Royal Currier, who set the pace before finishing third in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, and Emcee, a front-end winner of a swiftly-run first-level allowance race at Gulfstream, are likely to be forwardly placed.

Calibrachoa, who rallied from third to win last year’s Tom Fool, figures to be stalking from third under Cornelio Velasquez.

Calibrachoa will break from post 5 and carry 118 pounds while Caleb’s Posse, the 122-pound highweight, will break from post 6.

Capt. Candyman Can, Justin Phillip complete the field.

Tom Fool H. (G3), Post Time: 4:34 ET Saturday

Purse: $200,000; 6 furlongs

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Capt. Candyman Can

I. Wilkes

E. Prado

10-1

1

Royal Currier

P. Farro

R. Dominguez

10-1

1

Justin Phillip

S. Asmussen

E. Trujillo

12-1

1

Emcee

K. McLaughlin

J. Velazquez

5-2

1

Calibrachoa

T. Pletcher

C. Velasquez

2-1

1

Caleb's Posse

D. Von Hemel

R. Maragh

9-5

Top Flight: Love and Pride tackles It’s Tricky

Pletcher knows there are no easy graded stakes, but he probably wasn’t counting on Love and Pride having to take on the multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky in the Top Flight.

It’s Tricky, who has not run since finishing second to Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic last November, drew post 4 and was made the 1-4 morning-line favorite for the Top Flight, run at 1 1/16 miles around two turns over the inner track.

It’s Tricky won two races over the inner track last winter including the Busher by 8 1/2 lengths.

Love and Pride is coming off a seven-length victory in the Affectionately Stakes here on Jan. 28 when she got loose on the lead and set soft fractions.

“I don’t think she needs things her own way,” Pletcher said. “I think she needs to get into a comfortable rhythm, whether she’s on the lead or not. If you take her out of her comfort zone early or go too fast she doesn’t seem to respond as well, so I think it’s more about the right fractions than whether she’s on the lead or not.”

Love and Pride will break from the outside post in the six-horse field that also includes the Kelly Breen-trained entry of Coco Ecolo and Sleepless Dixie, Delightful Mary, and Bahama Bound.

With only five betting interests the Top Flight will go as race 5 on the 11-race card.

Top Flight H. (G2), Post Time: 2:42 ET Saturday

Purse: $200,000; 1 1/16 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Coco Ecolo

K. Breen

E. Trujillo

20-1

1

Sleepless Dixie

K. Breen

R. Curatolo

20-1

1

Delightful Mary

M. Casse

L. Contreras

4-1

1

Bahama Bound

A. Dutrow

J. Velazquez

15-1

1

It's Tricky

K. McLaughlin

R. Dominguez

1-4

1

Love and Pride

T. Pletcher

C. Velasquez

6-1

Kings Point fails to fill

The card was supposed to feature four stakes but there were not enough entries to fill the $75,000 Kings Point Stakes for New York-breds so the race was scrapped.

Only Stormy’s Majesty and Inherit the Gold were entered. Those two will likely have to wait for the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior on March 17.

Several of the horses nominated to the Kings Point did show up on Saturday’s card. Lunar Victory, winner of two straight New York-bred races, will take on open company opponents in a first-level allowance that goes as race 3.

Socialsaul and Writingonthewall were entered in an optional claiming race that goes as race 4.

Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Have a feeling Pletchers runners will lose some of that floridw form.