03/05/2010 12:00AM

Eightyfiveinafifty goes back to work


Eightyfiveinafifty, who imploded as the 1-4 favorite in the Whirlaway Stakes on Feb. 6, returned to the work tab on Thursday, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.03 over the inner track. The move was the fastest of 11 at the distance.

"It was a nice comeback breeze," trainer Gary Contessa said. "He went the first quarter in 25, the half in 48-and-4. It was the old Eightyfiveinafifty. And he did nothing wrong after the wire. He hugged that turn galloping out."

In the Whirlaway, Eightyfiveinafifty blew the first turn, bolting to the outside fence after, according to jockey Jorge Chavez, the bit broke in the horse's mouth. Eightyfiveinafifty unseated Chavez and ran loose around the stable area before being caught near the entrance to the stable gate.

Eightyfiveinafifty suffered only a wound to his right hind leg which required about 14 stitches to heal.

Contessa said he has yet to make a firm decision on what might be next for Eightyfiveinafifty. Contessa said he is considering the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore Stakes here at seven furlongs on April 3, but "it is absolutely not etched in stone."

Eightyfiveinafifty made a name for himself by winning a maiden race by 17 1/4 lengths here on Jan. 9, earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

Contessa, Pletcher tied atop standings

Contessa, who has won four consecutive inner-track training titles, briefly moved into the lead for top honors at this meet when he won two races on Thursday's card. That gave him a 29-28 lead over Todd Pletcher and marked the first time this winter that Contessa had ascended to the top of the standings.

Contessa's lead was short-lived, however, as Pletcher tied him when Driven by Solar upset heavily favored Mr. Grievance in Friday's second race. Contessa went 0 for 4 on Friday's card.

"I keep recycling the same four horses over and over," Contessa said. "I'm not even thinking about it, but it's kind of fun to watch. I'll keep plugging in those nonwinners of two, nonwinners of three for [$7,500] or whatever else P.J [Campo] writes."

Contessa has had 189 starters at the meet, compared with 76 for Pletcher. Since 1999-2000, Contessa has won seven inner-track training titles.

"I'd like to win the title again, but if [Pletcher] wins it, it was a great fight," Contessa said.

After Friday's card there were 16 days of racing remaining on the inner track.

Digger pointing to Carter

Digger, the runner-up in the Grade 2 General George at Laurel last month, will likely get a shot at Grade 1 glory in the $250,000 Carter Handicap over the main track on April 3, trainer Bruce Brown said Friday.

Brown said the Carter would give him and owner Mike Repole an idea as to which races to target for the remainder of the year.

"Do we ship him around or does he step it up and show that he's a New York stakes horse?" Brown said. "If we're going to do it, that might be the right time to try and do it."

Prior to the General George, Digger won the Gravesend at Aqueduct and the Fire Plug at Laurel, both six-furlong races. The Carter is run at seven furlongs.