09/03/2006 11:00PM

Circular Quay flies in stretch


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - At the half-mile pole of Monday's Grade 1 at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher wasn't sure where Circular Quay was going to finish in the race. In the next eighth of a mile, Pletcher was pretty sure he knew exactly where Circular Quay was going to finish.

"At the three-eighths pole I thought he'd win,'' Pletcher said. "You could see him revving up and you knew what everybody else was going to do.''

After showing a lack of interest for the first four furlongs of the race, Circular Quay put in a sensational three-furlong run that carried him past his four speedy rivals and into the winner's circle by 4 1/4 lengths over stablemate Scat Daddy. It was one length back to Unbridled Express in third. Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace completed the order of finish.

It was the third victory in as many starts for Circular Quay, who established himself as the East Coast's top 2-year-old prospect for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Under Garrett Gomez, Circular Quay broke slowly and raced about 13 lengths off the pace as Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace set fractions of 22.36 seconds and 44.88 for the opening half-mile. Unbridled Express and Scat Daddy, who stumbled badly at the start, were racing right behind that tandem.

Around the turn, Unbridled Express and Scat Daddy joined the leaders and Scat Daddy was jostled trying to squeeze between horses in the stretch. Meanwhile, Gomez yanked Circular Quay to the far outside and the colt kicked home smartly for the victory. Circular Quay ($3.60), a son of Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch and Spinaway winner Circle of Life, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.00.

"I was very, very, very surprised the way he left the gate,'' Gomez said. "He left there nonchalant like he was going to go two miles. I sent him and I tried to get him up on his feet and I couldn't get him up on his feet. So I went to plan B. I waited on him, I kept waiting on him, finally at the three-eighths pole I said 'I'm tired of waiting on you, it's time to go.' He picked them up and at the quarter pole I thought I had a good chance of running by them. I moved him out and he motored on down.''

The victory gave Pletcher his meet-best 24th win and ninth in a graded stakes. Pletcher, who captured his fifth straight Saratoga training title, won four of the six juvenile stakes run at the meet and ran second in the other two.

Scat Daddy, who won the Sanford on the second day of the meet, was inhibited by a bad start in which jockey John Velazquez said "he fell and then threw himself forward. The front end went one way, the back end went anther way.''

"I thought Scat Daddy ran huge,'' Pletcher said. "He's the one horse that battled on early that held on for second. That was after stumbling at the start, having to steady down the backside.''

Pletcher said he is more likely to run Circular Quay and Scat Daddy in stakes that are four weeks out from the Breeders' Cup as opposed to the Champagne at Belmont, a race just three weeks before the Juvenile.

Glens Falls: Noble Stella best

After stalking the pacesetting Sabellina through a mile in 1:38.97, Noble Stella engaged that rival outside the quarter pole, then shot past her inside the final furlong to win the Grade 3, $112,100 by two lengths.

Latice rallied for second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Louve Royale, who nosed out Wait It Out.

Mike Smith rode Nobel Stella for owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Roger Attfield. It was the third graded stakes win of the year for Noble Stella, who won the Grade 2 New York BC Handicap at Belmont in June and the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland in April.

Noble Stella covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:16.02 over a good inner turf course and returned $10.40.