05/15/2006 12:00AM

Circle the World faces elders

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Matt Dean / EQUI-PHOTO
Circle the World wins his debut on the Florida Derby card at Gulfstream Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If the caliber of horses that Todd Pletcher left behind at Churchill Downs following the May 6 Kentucky Derby is supposed to be second-string, well, it's scary to think how good his first string at Belmont Park might be.

Pletcher, who left a full barn of 36 horses in the care of assistant Mike "Whitey" McCarthy, will be represented in the Wednesday feature at Churchill by Circle the World, a Fusaichi Pegasus colt who won his career debut on the April 1 Florida Derby undercard at Gulfstream Park. Typical of what occurs with many Pletcher first-time starters, Circle the World came highly touted, was bet down to 8-5 favoritism, and won - earning an 84 Beyer Speed Figure.

, owned by Michael Tabor, is the only 3-year-old in a field of eight horses in Wednesday's $54,000 feature, a 7 1/2-furlong race that carries a first-level allowance restriction and is carded as the eighth of nine races. With Rafael Bejarano to ride, Circle the World will break from the outside post in his second career start.

His main challengers appear to be , third under similar allowance conditions at Keeneland last month.

Rounding out the field are True Halo, Nebulous, New Age, and Green's Fair.

Pletcher, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer the last two years, won with 9 of his first 21 starters at the Churchill spring meet, placing him second in wins behind Dale Romans after the first 12 programs here.

The Wednesday feature will be directly preceded by another $54,000 allowance, this one for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Bejarano has the mount on one of the logical choices, Big Prairie, a Danzig colt who was competitive last year in graded company and might well have needed his latest start, at Keeneland.

The card also includes a maiden special weight event (race 2) at the infrequently run distance of 1 1/4 miles on the main track. Pletcher and Bejarano figure well there, too, with Twenty One Dollars, the likely favorite in a field of six.

Also Wednesday, the second round of a weekly handicapping contest will be held in the Joe Hirsch Media Center.