06/26/2007 12:00AM

Fearless Eagle surprises even Plesa


MIAMI - No trainer had a better day up and down the East Coast on Saturday than Eddie Plesa Jr., who sent out Gottcha Gold to upset Lawyer Ron in Monmouth Park's Grade 3 Salvator Mile and the 45-1 shot Fearless Eagle to an even bigger shocker victory in the Lord Juban Stakes at Calder.

Fearless Eagle had only four previous starts, none on grass, before rallying to defeat fellow longshots Sparkling Notion in second place and Unbridled Music in third in the Lord Juban at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"He's been doing well, and I had planned to run him in this race for a while," said Plesa. "To be honest, I'd say I was more hopeful than confident he would handle the grass, which he did - and the jockey rode a fantastic race."

The rider, Roimes Chirinos, got Fearless Eagle to the inside after a slow start from post 10, saved ground around the second turn, then eased out to overtake the tiring leader in late stretch.

"He came back 100 percent from the race, but I haven't set any plans for him just yet," said Plesa. "I'd like to keep him down there, but if it looks like he could turn out to be a better horse on turf than dirt, I might have to think about sending him north later this season."

Plesa is splitting his stable between south Florida and New Jersey again this summer and was at Monmouth on Saturday for Gottcha Gold's defeat of the 1-9 Lawyer Ron.

Jockey Chuck Lopez guided Gottcha Gold through fractions of 22.80 seconds, 45.40, and 1:09.20 - a much slower pace than he set when finishing second in the Frisk Me Now in his previous start - and they held off the closing Lawyer Ron by a neck.

"I had a lot of confidence going into this race, and things couldn't have worked out better if I'd written the script myself," said Plesa, who was tied for fifth in the Calder trainer standings entering Thursday's card.

"He drew an inside post, everybody took back off him, he wasn't pressed, and as a result he went a good five to seven lengths slower for each of the early splits," Plesa said. "I'm glad the race wasn't a mile and ten yards, but the way he was running I was confident he was going to win from the quarter pole home."

Plesa said he has no plans for Gottcha Gold's next start but he obviously has one big race in the back of his mind - the new Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, which will be run this year at Monmouth Park, at a mile and 70 yards because of the layout at Monmouth.

"He loves this racetrack and he loves a mile, so I guess that says something," Plesa said.

Mannington, Villainage also win

Plesa's good fortune at Calder continued over the next couple of days with impressive wins by the 2-year-old Mannington on Sunday and Villainage in Monday's feature.

Mannington, a son of Delaware Township, won by only a length but was geared down and taken in hand by jockey Abel Castellano Jr. after drawing clear of pacesetter Api Mohkat at midstretch. Mannington earned his diploma at second asking. Villainage, returning from a 6 1/2-month layoff, overcame a rough trip to defeat second-level allowance rivals.

Villainage, a homebred son of Trippi, was among the leaders of the local 2-year-old division in 2006 after second-place finishes in the Dr. Fager and Affirmed Stakes. Monday's win was his first around two turns.

"I just gave him time off to freshen up," Plesa said. "He's also been gelded since his last start. I was hoping he'd be tight enough for this race, although you can never really be sure."

* Funny Annie continued a trend of upsets over the weekend by easily defeating the 2-5 Potra Clasica in Sunday's Liberada Stakes on the grass. Funny Annie is owned by Ian Matthews's Matthews Stable and trainer Mike McDonald. The victory was the second in a stakes for the versatile Distorted Humor filly, who won the Wayward Lass, also with Potra Clasica running second, over the Tampa Bay Downs main track in her 2007 debut on March 3.

* How's Your Halo, runner-up to Mach Ride in the Champali Stakes on June 16, worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Tuesday. How's Your Halo is among the nominees for the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap on the July 7 Summit of Speed card.