03/16/2011 1:42PM

Gulfstream feature sees Pletcher with strong pair

Tom Keyser
Bridgetown, Willie Martinez up, wins the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Todd Pletcher holds the upper hand in Friday’s stakes-quality allowance feature at Gulfstream Park with his Bridgetown and filly counterpart Rose Catherine the two to beat in the five-furlong turf dash. The $66,400 headliner lured a strong field of 10 that also includes a pair from the barn of trainer Linda Rice and the four-time Grade 2 winner D’Funnybone, who was entered for dirt only.

Bridgetown and Rose Catherine have much in common. Both were sired by Speightstown, both set the pace and narrowly missed winning Breeders’ Cup turf races at 2 and both competed in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Bridgetown finishing fourth and Rose Catherine seventh in her first start against males.

Pletcher named different riders aboard his two turf-sprint specialists with John Velazquez listed aboard Bridgetown and Javier Castellano on Rose Catherine, an indication both are likely to start.

Bridgetown is coming off a big 2011 debut when he outlasted Great Attack to capture the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 19. It was his first start since finished fourth in the BC Turf Sprint, a key race that produced five next-out winners, and first since being transferred to Pletcher at the end of his 2010 campaign. Bridgetown won 2 of 4 tries at 3, both overnight stakes, with his former trainer Ken McPeek.

Rose Catherine had a four-race win streak snapped in the BC Turf Sprint after failing to show her usual speed that day. A four-time stakes winner, she led until late stretch before finishing second, a half-length behind Tapitsfly, in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Like Pletcher, Rice has entered a member of each sex, Awakino Cat and the veteran mare Ahvee’s Destiny and said she intends to run both on Friday.

Awakino Cat has been idle since closing out 2010 by winning three consecutive grass stakes. Ahvee’s Destiny finished third behind the Dubai bound Stradivinsky and Great Attack in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint earlier this winter.

“I think I’m going to run both,” said Rice. “I had Ahvee’s Destiny in the filly division of this race last week but had to scratch her when it rained and the race came off the turf. I’ve been struggling to get her back in and there’s no guarantee another race will go for her down here. I usually turn Awakino Cat out for a while each winter. He had a difficult time getting back on track last year, but he had some bad racing luck in those early races and he likes the Gulfstream course.”

Awakino Cat has won 2 of his 3 starts at Gulfstream.

Both Sneaking Uponyou and Little Nick will try Bridgetown again after finishing fifth and seventh respectively at Tampa in the Turf Dash. Flamin’ Hot chased Bridgetown home to no avail in a couple of overnight stakes last summer in New York and New Jersey but was an impressive entry-level allowance winner over this course here one year earlier.

D’Funnybone won three Grade 2 stakes, including the Swale and Hutcheson here last winter, but has not started since finishing far back in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 28.