02/13/2006 12:00AM

Bluegrass Cat ready to start year


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Three of the four top contenders for Saturday's $125,000 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs worked in south Florida on Sunday, including likely favorite Bluegrass Cat, who breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 in company with stablemate Hot Cotton at Palm Meadows. The 1 1/16-mile Sam Davis is a prep for the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 18.

Bluegrass Cat will be making his first start since closing out his 2-year-old campaign with a 1 3/4-length victory in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Remsen on Nov. 26. A son of Storm Cat, Bluegrass Cat has won all three of his starts since being transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn during the summer.

"He's doing well," Pletcher said after the work. "I was looking for something around 1:01 and change, but the track was a little cuppy this morning because of the cold and wind, and he did gallop out strongly. We're right where we want to be with him for his first start. He's dead on to run well."

Pletcher had originally mapped out a plan that would have had Bluegrass Cat launch his 3-year-old campaign in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 4. But after Bluegrass Cat missed a few days of training in January, Pletcher pushed the starting date back a couple of weeks.

"The way things turned out this might have been a blessing in disguise, since the track came up sloppy for the Holy Bull," said Pletcher. "Besides, I wasn't crazy about running him a mile and one-eighth first time back, anyway."

Joining Bluegrass Cat on the Palm Meadows work tab Sunday was Laptop Computer, a lightly raced 3-year-old trained by Rick Violette who worked five-eighths in 1:01 earlier that morning. Laptop Computer earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure winning his maiden going six furlongs in his 2-year-old finale, then stretched out to a mile to finish second behind the highly regarded Barbican here Jan. 15.

"I would have preferred to have stayed here and run in a two-turn allowance race, but the one-other-than didn't go and there's no other place to run right now," said Violette. "We've got to find out where we stand with him around two turns. A mile race doesn't teach you anything here, and we can't wait forever, because he's ready to run. So we'll take him to Tampa and see what happens."

Trainer Nick Zito is also planning on shipping Hesanoldsalt, one of his top-rated 3-year-olds, to Tampa for the Sam Davis. A son of Broad Brush, Hesanoldsalt has won each

of his last two starts, including a 1 1/8-mile allowance race here Jan. 15. He worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Gulfstream on Sunday.

Keyed Entry leaning toward Rebel

Pletcher also said he'll likely pass the Fountain of Youth with Keyed Entry, an undefeated 3-year-old who earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure beating First Samurai in the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes earlier this month.

"It's not etched in stone, but it probably makes sense to pass the next one, as fast as he ran in his last race," said Pletcher. "That puts us on the March 18 races, which gives us three options: the Rebel, Gotham, or Tampa Bay Derby."

Of the three, Pletcher said he would probably lean toward the Rebel.

"If I'm going to the Tampa Derby with Bluegrass Cat, I'd rather not run the two against one another, and I think it's a little more reliable in mid-March going to Arkansas rather than New York because of the weather."

Plans uncertain for Silver Train

Reigning Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Silver Train worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Palm Meadows on Sunday, but plans for his next start are suddenly up in the air following the death last week of his owner, Mahmoud Fustok, who owned Buckram Oak Farm.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen with any of the Buckram Oak horses at this point," said trainer Richard Dutrow. "For now I'm going to keep him on the same schedule we've had all along and train him as if he'll make his next start in the Richter Scale Stakes as planned."

The Grade 2 Richter Scale is carded at seven furlongs on March 4.

Wolfson puts four to work

Trainer Marty Wolfson worked all four of his filly-and-mare stakes candidates a half-mile in preparation for this weekend's Hurricane Bertie and Sabin handicaps. Kuanyan, who finished in 48.60, is a candidate for the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie. Menifeeque, who finished in 50.60, may also run in the Hurricane Bertie, while Mocita (51.60) and Potra Clasica (49.80) are expected to start in the 1 1/8-mile Sabin Handicap.

Wolfson also said he may put Can't Beat It back on the dirt for the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth following Sunday's impressive victory in the Hallandale Beach Stakes on the grass.