03/26/2005 12:00AM

Flower Alley saves day for Pletcher

Flower Alley, Jorge Chavez aboard, scores an upset at 10-1 in the Grade 2 Lane's End. His previous win came in a maiden race.

FLORENCE, Ky. - Flower Alley more than made up for what initially appeared to be a disappointing afternoon for his stable when he rallied for a 10-1 upset in the Grade 2, $500,000 on Saturday at Turfway Park.

Thirty minutes earlier, Proud Accolade had run a poor sixth for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Rushaway Stakes, ending his Kentucky Derby chances. But Flower Alley, who in his previous start merely had won a maiden race at Gulfstream Park, launched a torrid late run under Jorge Chavez to defeat another stretch-runner, Wild Desert, by a half-length.

Pletcher, who made the trip to Turfway from south Florida, said spotting a recent maiden winner in such a major race "is not something that we normally do, but we felt like if we had any chance to get into the bigger picture with him, he had to step it up."

Flower Alley, owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, returned $22.40 after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.33 over a muddy track. Flower Alley, who was making just his third career start, is a Kentucky-bred by Distorted Humor, the sire of 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

Spanish Chestnut, the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds, led early, but midway through the far turn, Mr Sword took over with a huge run along the rail. Entering the stretch, Mr Sword pulled away under Norberto Arroyo and appeared on his way to a romp, but the colt suddenly tired, and the top two flew past him inside the sixteenth pole. Mr Sword wound up third, two lengths behind runner-up Wild Desert, while Magna Graduate was fourth, Andromeda's Hero fifth, and Spanish Chestnut sixth.

An objection against the winner by Daniel Borislow, the owner of Wild Desert, was quickly dismissed.

The trip for Flower Alley was interesting. Second to Spanish Chestnut in the early going, he had dropped back to mid-pack, about five lengths behind, by the far turn. Then he re-rallied after being wheeled out into the middle of the track

"He's still green, and he was climbing from all the kickback," said Pletcher, who won the 2001 Lane's End (then known as the Spiral) with Balto Star. "But there's a lot of talent there. His maiden win was a fast race, and we thought we had a good line on him based on some of the horses he'd been training with in the morning," including Ashado and Bandini.

Pletcher said a possible next start for Flower Alley could come in the April 16 Arkansas Derby or Blue Grass Stakes "or the [April 23] Lexington if I feel I need more time."