01/09/2006 1:00AM

Bridgmohan, Pletcher hotter than July

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Ryan McAlinden/EQUI-PHOTO
On Thin Ice wins the Hal's Hope with Shaun Bridgmohan up.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The weather was unseasonably cold at Gulfstream Park last weekend, but nothing could cool off jockey Shaun Bridgmohan or trainer Todd Pletcher.

Bridgmohan swept all four stakes races decided during the opening weekend of the meeting, as he won the Aventura Stakes aboard Doctor Decherd, the Mr. Prospector Handicap on Gaff, and the Hal's Hope Handicap with On Thin Ice on Saturday and the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes on the turf aboard Honor in War the following afternoon.

Pletcher, the two-time defending Gulfstream training champion, picked up right where he left off here last year by winning seven races over the first three days of the meet, including five over the weekend.

"That was incredible," Bridgmohan said shortly after Honor in War overcame a rough trip to win the Ft. Lauderdale. "You can only dream about weekends like these."

Bridgmohan, 26, was born in Jamaica but grew up in south Florida. He began his career at Calder, where he was the leading apprentice rider and third in the overall standings at the 1997 Tropical meeting. He moved his tack to New York at the start of the 1998 season and is riding regularly at Gulfstream for the first time this winter.

"I had been thinking of coming here for the winter, but when Steve Asmussen asked me to come down here and ride first call for him, that cinched the decision," Bridgmohan said. "This is about the toughest meet in the country, and you need some good clientele behind you. Having a trainer like Steve in your corner isn't a bad thing."

Bridgmohan registered two of his three stakes wins Saturday for Asmussen, taking the Aventura aboard Doctor Decherd and the Mr. Prospector on Gaff.

"Going in I thought all four of my horses had a shot," said Bridgmohan. I knew all along Doctor Decherd had lots of ability, but it took a while for him to put it all together. And the way Gaff ran the last time, I knew he was live. I didn't know a lot about On Thin Ice coming into the Hal's Hope, but looking at his last race I figured he'd run well. Honor in War is a pretty tough horse, and I knew if he ran his best race he'd have a big chance."

Bridgmohan is coming off a breakout year in which he ranked 12th nationally in races won (247) and 16th in total earnings ($7.7 million). He dominated the standings at the 2005 Arlington Park meeting, winning 132 races.

"It's nice to come back home for the winter. It's the first time I've ridden regularly in Florida since 1997, and it's especially great to start off the meet like this," said Bridgmohan. "I just hope I can have continued success throughout the winter."

Pletcher won with both his starters on opening day, posted two more wins Saturday with promising 3-year-olds Exclusive Quality and Keyed Entry, and scored a hat trick Sunday that included a one-two finish with Terrific Storm and Harbor Master in a second-level allowance race for older horses on the turf.

"I thought we had some live spots, but you don't ever expect to win seven races in three days," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said he may look at the seven-furlong Hutcheson for Keyed Entry's next start, while My Golden Song, who finished third after breaking a step slowly from the rail in the Aventura, could come back in the 1 1/8-mile Holy Bull. Both races will be run on Feb. 4.

"I thought My Golden Song stayed on well considering he stood in the gate a long time, didn't break sharp, and raced along the rail, which was not the place to be over the weekend," said Pletcher.

Bravo fitted for back brace

Bridgmohan was a last-minute replacement aboard On Thin Ice, getting the call from trainer Joe Orseno after his scheduled rider, Joe Bravo, was injured in a spill on opening day. Bravo fractured two vertebrae in his back in the incident and will be sidelined indefinitely.

"Joe was fitted for a chest and back brace today," Danny Mellul, Bravo's agent, said on Monday. "That should alleviate some of the pressure and take away some of the pain he's still suffering in his back. They'll keep him at Jackson Memorial Hospital for another three to five days for observation, after which Joe will stay locally to undergo rehabilitation. It's still way too early to make any long-term prognosis regarding his riding career."

The spill was the fourth serious fall Bravo has taken during his career. He missed a portion of the 2005 season after breaking his collarbone last summer in a riding mishap at Monmouth Park.

Jerkens pair in unorthodox works

Allen Jerkens didn't make the Hall of Fame or earn the nickname The Giant Killer by sticking to conventional training methods. A case in point came here Sunday morning, when Jerkens sent out two of his stakes horses, Lilah and Kennel Up, for unconventional works.

Jerkens had Lilah work a half-mile from the eighth pole to the six-furlong pole at the top of the backstretch. Kennel Up broke off for his half-mile breeze at the quarter pole and pulled up at the seven-furlong pole midway around the clubhouse turn. Lilah was timed in 46.60 seconds, while Kennel Up went a more leisurely 48.80.

"Lilah is a tough horse to gallop, she tends to want to run off, so I had the rider just jog her a little bit in the chute, then break her right off at the eighth pole when she came back on the main track," Jerkens explained. "Kennel Up has a tendency to pull himself up when he sees his barn, which is located near the three-eighths pole, during a traditional work. Fortunately he doesn't do it during a race."

The 9-year-old Lilah will make the final start of her career on Jan. 21 before being bred to Speightstown later this season. Kennel Up is scheduled to make his next start in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 28.