03/20/2013 2:26PM

Gulfstream Park: Pletcher duo of Peace Preserver, Dancing Solo loom in Friday feature

Email
Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Peace Preserver, here winning the Pebbles at Belmont, has not raced since she ran eighth in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last fall.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Just when you’d think trainer Todd Pletcher had exhausted his supply of stakes-caliber horses to bring off the bench before the 2012-13 Gulfstream Park meet runs its course early next month, here come two more, Peace Preserver and Dancing Solo, to take on eight other older fillies and mares in Friday’s $65,350 feature.

The main event will be decided at a mile on turf under high-level optional-claiming conditions.

Peace Preserver is the stronger of the uncoupled Pletcher pair and the horse to beat, if she is even close to her best for her return. A 4-year-old daughter of War Front, Peace Preserver has not started since finishing a troubled eighth in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17. The race winner, Centre Court, opened her 2013 campaign winning the Grade 2 Honey Fox here Saturday while Regalo Mia, like Peace Preserver an also-ran in the Mrs. Revere, further flattered the race by winning the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf earlier this winter.

Peace Preserver won 3 of 9 starts at 3, including Belmont Park’s Pebbles Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths over stablemate Channel Lady, who is already a Grade 3 winner herself this winter. Peace Preserver’s best performance may have come in defeat, when she finished second behind Grade 1 winner Dayatthespa last summer in Saratoga’s Riskaverse.

Peace Preserver has been working steadily, if not spectacularly, for her return over the main track at Palm Meadows.

Dancing Solo also closed her 3-year-old season against graded stakes company, finishing a wide-running and well-beaten ninth in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Valley View on Oct. 19. Dancing Solo became a graded stakes winner last summer at Monmouth Park when she capped a modest two-race win string with a victory in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs. While probably best at distances ranging from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles, Dancing Solo did capture her only previous start at a mile, an overnight stakes at Monmouth.

Baffle Me displayed immediate improvement once switched to the turf last fall in New York by trainer Mark Hennig, upsetting an overnight stakes over the Belmont turf course to the tune of a $44.40 mutuel. She has run twice during the current session, finishing second and third after setting the pace through midstretch under similar conditions as Friday’s headliner.

Warm Hugs rallied from the rear of the field to defeat slightly softer optional-claiming opposition going a mile here early in the meet. But she could not quite duplicate the effort stepping up to the next level, finishing a late-running fourth behind Pianist and Baffle Me making her 2013 debut in a well-rated event Feb. 7.

Jockey Mike Smith, who is in town for the weekend, will replace the injured Jose Lezcano aboard Warm Hugs for trainer Bill Mott.

Trainer Marty Wolfson has entered the coupled pair of Suroof and Canadian Mistress, naming Joe Rocco Jr. on both, with the latter to run only if the race comes off the grass.