02/20/2006 12:00AM

Bluegrass Cat readies for Tampa Bay Derby


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Todd Pletcher reported Monday that Bluegrass Cat came back well from his record-setting win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs and that he remained on target for the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 18.

"He came back excellent," said Pletcher. "The race seemed to take nothing out of him, and his energy level has been good since the race. It was just what we were looking for, so we'll stick with the plan and go back to Tampa next month and see how that goes.

"The spacing is good for that race," Pletcher added, "and the most logical step if all continued to work out well would be to take him back to Aqueduct for the Wood, since he's already won the Remsen over that track."

One ready to go, one isn't

Pletcher had some good news and bad news about a couple of his other 3-year-old prospects, Keyed Entry and Half Ours.

"Keyed Entry worked well the other day, and at the moment everything is going according to plan," said Pletcher. "We haven't made a definite decision yet, but right now our two options are the Rebel and the Gotham, with the Rebel the most likely of those two races for his next start."

Keyed Entry earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110 when he beat First Samurai in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes here earlier this month.

Pletcher also reported that Half Ours is off the Derby trail after re-aggravating an injury he suffered as a 2-year-old.

"He's back on the farm in Ocala for some stall rest for now," said Pletcher. "He reopened the old fracture. We'll just monitor him and see how quickly it heals."

Just call Mott hot

Pletcher continues to hold a big lead in the trainer standings, but nobody was as hot as trainer Bill Mott over the holiday weekend. Mott won five races, including three stakes at Gulfstream and Tampa on Saturday, then sent out turf winners on the Sunday and Monday cards here, including Pommes Frites in Monday's allowance feature.

"Everything is cyclical in this business," Mott's Gulfstream assistant, Ken McCarthy, said on Monday. "Some of the horses out of the Churchill outfit were a little tired when they came in here, and Bill was just sitting on some live ones up at Payson earlier in the meet."

Mott's stakes wins Saturday came from Taittinger Rose in Gulfstream's Grade 3 Sabin Stakes, as well as My Lordship and Crystal Current at Tampa in the Endeavour and Suncoast stakes. Mott, who was on vacation this week, said Saturday that Crystal Current would likely return to Tampa for the Florida Oaks on March 18.

Change in the offing for R Loyal Man

Trainer Tim Ritvo said he will look to put R Loyal Man on the grass or turn him back in distance following his third-place finish in the Sam F. Davis.

"One thing I don't want to do is to be chasing Bluegrass Cat around, so we won't be coming back for the Tampa Derby," said Ritvo. "One option would be to shorten him up and try the Gotham, or else I could look for a grass race at Gulfstream, since his breeding suggests his future might lie on turf."

Ritvo's colleague Tom Albertrani, however, did not rule out returning to Tampa with Deputy Glitters for a rematch with Bluegrass Cat in the Tampa Bay Derby. Deputy Glitters was easily second best in the Sam F. Davis as the longest price on the board at 63-1.

"I was really pleased with his race," said Albertrani. "I expected a better race out of him once we got to run him around two turns. He never really had a chance to settle running short."

Albertrani also said he would likely keep his impressive maiden winner Songster around one turn for the time being and look to bring him back in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream. Songster ran seven furlongs in 1:21.59 while winning his debut here on Jan. 28. The final time equaled the track record and earned Songster, a son of Songandaprayer, a Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

New Castellano in town

Jockey Javier Castellano and his wife, Abby, had their first child, Kayla Marie Castellano, born Sunday morning in Hollywood, Fla. She weighed in at 7 pounds. Abby Castellano is the daughter of Terry Meyocks, a former president of the New York Racing Association.

Javier Castellano, who escaped serious injury when his mount, Bennifer, broke down during Monday's fifth race, is fourth in the jockey standings here with 30 wins.

* Private Vow worked six furlongs in 1:15.20 at Palm Meadows on Monday as he moves closer to his 3-year-old debut, while Mustanfar went five furlongs on the turf in 1:02.40 in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf.