02/02/2008 1:00AM

Game Face will bypass Forward Gal


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Coming off a seven-length victory in the Grade 2 Old Hat Stakes earlier in the session, Game Face figured to be an odds-on favorite for Sunday's Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes. But the entire outlook of the race changed after trainer Todd Pletcher said he has decided to pass the seven-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies to await the one-mile Davona Dale Stakes on March 2.

Pletcher made his decision after Game Face worked a half-mile in 52 seconds at Palm Beach Downs on Saturday.

"I just gave her an easy work this morning," said Pletcher. "She missed a little time after spiking a temperature 10 days ago, and as a result we'll just pass this one and train her into the Davona Dale."

Game Face was one of a number of horses Pletcher worked at Palm Beach Downs on Saturday. Among them were Check It Twice and Magna Graduate, who went five furlongs in company in 59.80.

Check It Twice was purchased privately and turned over to Pletcher shortly after his three-length victory over Coal Play in Calder's What a Pleasure Stakes on Dec. 1.

"He breezed extremely well this morning," said Pletcher. "He was right with Magna Graduate all the way. In fact, his last two works have been very sharp. He really seems to be rounding into form right now."

Pletcher had originally considered sending Check It Twice to Tampa's Sam Davis Stakes for his 3-year-old debut, but following Saturday's workout he will now opt for a little bit tougher spot, Fair Grounds's Grade 3 Risen Star on Saturday. Magna Graduate is headed to New Orleans the same afternoon for the Mineshaft Handicap.

Pletcher is also getting excited about Sleuse, an impressive maiden winner in his second career start on Friday.

"The horse had done everything well in the morning, and I expected him to run good [Friday], but not quite that good," said Pletcher. "Obviously we'll have to get going if we want to get him on the Derby trail. He needs some graded earnings."

Pletcher said he would look for a graded race for Sleuse in mid-March, adding that the Grade 3 Gotham on March 8 at Aqueduct possibly "makes the most sense."

Defection has Kimmel thinking

Game Face's defection from the Forward Gal gave trainer John Kimmel some second thoughts about his plans for Elusive Lady, who worked four furlongs in 48.19 at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Elusive Lady, winner of the Grade 3 Tempted and second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at 2, stopped badly making her 3-year-old debut in the Old Hat.

"She worked great this morning, but she definitely didn't like being down on the inside racing over this track, and I can't take a chance of drawing the inside again in the Forward Gal," said Kimmel. "I was thinking about taking her to Tampa in a couple of weeks, although I am surprised to hear Game Face won't be running in the Forward Gal."

Kimmel was referring to Tampa's one-mile Suncoast Stakes on Feb 16. The Suncoast serves as a prep for the Grade 3 Florida Oaks four weeks later.

War Pass works four furlongs

War Pass continues to gear up for his 3-year-old debut. The Eclipse Award winner served notice he is on his toes and about ready to go after working four furlongs in 46.80 at Palm Meadows on Saturday.

"I wanted him to pick it up a little and he really got into the bit and worked terrific," said trainer Nick Zito. "He did it easily."

Zito said he's still undecided about whether he'll work War Pass once or twice more before he launches his 3-year-old campaign later this month.

J Z Warrior DQ'd in whip incident

J Z Warrior, who was also among the nominees for the Forward Gal, outgamed the undefeated Informed Decision by a nose in Saturday's fifth race but was disqualified from first and placed second for "misuse of the whip," according to the stewards. J Z Warrior's jockey, Kent Desormeaux, appeared to strike Informed Decision across the nose as the pair battled to the wire through the final furlong of the first-level allowance dash for 3-year-old fillies.