11/26/2005 12:00AM

Bluegrass Cat on a roll

Despite stumbling away from the gate, Bluegrass Cat and John Velazquez win their third straight race together in the Remsen.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The start was the hardest part for Bluegrass Cat in Saturday's Grade 2 at Aqueduct.

Overcoming a stumbling beginning, Bluegrass Cat picked himself up under John Velazquez, then was able to set modest fractions on the front end before repelling a challenge from Flashy Bull to win the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct.

Flashy Bull, who stalked Bluegrass Cat from the outset, held second by 4 1/2 lengths over Parkhimonbroadway.

It was the third consecutive victory for Bluegrass Cat, a son of Storm Cat, who now becomes a serious player for next year's Kentucky Derby.

After his stumbling start, Bluegrass Cat relaxed nicely on the front end while setting fractions of 24.57 seconds, 49.07, and 1:13.54 for six furlongs. Flashy Bull came to him around the turn, but Bluegrass Cat responded to the whip of Velazquez to pull away late. Bluegrass Cat, trained by Todd Pletcher and owned and bred by the WinStar Farm, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.20 on a fast track and returned $3.20 as the favorite.

Velazquez said that Bluegrass Cat is "a great talent" but the horse still showed signs of greenness such as waiting on horses,

loafing on the lead, and shying away from the photographers at the finish line.

"I know he's still green, that's why I waited for somebody to come to me, so when I ask he'll go on," Velazquez said. "If I try to open up at the quarter pole he's going to [pull up]."

After losing his debut at Churchill Downs in June, Bluegrass Cat has won three in a row since moving to Pletcher's barn. He will ship down to south Florida this week to prepare for the Triple Crown prep races.

"He's come a long way in a short period of time," said Pletcher, who won his first Remsen. "He's a nice horse."