01/13/2011 2:26PM

Heart Butte, Alma d'Oro give Pletcher two big threats in Evening Attire

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Alma d'Oro is part of a potent one-two punch for trainer Todd Pletcher in a five-horse field for the Evening Attire.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Four of trainer Todd Pletcher’s meet-leading 14 victories at Aqueduct have come in stakes. Pletcher has a 40-percent chance to add to his totals when he sends out Heart Butte and Alma d’Oro in Saturday’s $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track.

Heart Butte and Alma d’Oro were two of only five horses entered for the Evening Attire, a race Pletcher won last year with Understatement as part of a 1-5 Paul Pompa-owned entry along with Well Positioned, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. This year, Dutrow sends out the multiple graded stakes winner Arson Squad against the Pletcher pair.

Determining which Pletcher horse to back is not easy. Both are coming off wins over the inner track in recent weeks, with Alma d’Oro’s coming in a stakes going a mile. However, Heart Butte, who has only made eight starts, may have more upside than his stablemate.

A 4-year-old son of Empire Maker, Heart Buttte defeated Drosselmeyer in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Keeneland in October 2009. While Drosselmeyer went on to win the Belmont Stakes eight months later, Heart Butte was sidelined for nearly nine months before returning. It took him five tries to clear his first-level allowance condition, something he did at Churchill Downs the day after the Breeders’ Cup.

Heart Butte came back to clear the second-level allowance condition over the inner track on Dec. 5.

“He’s an improving horse. We’ve always liked the way he’s trained,’’ Pletcher said. “His last couple have got him going in the right direction.’’

David Cohen rides Heart Butte, the lightweight at 116 pounds, from post 2.

Alma d’Oro, a 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, has won stakes in two of his last three starts, including a victory over the multiple graded stakes winner Win Willy in the Grover Delp Memorial at Delaware Park in October. He also won the Forty Niner Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths despite drifting out significantly in the stretch.

Alma d’Oro, who will be ridden by Fernando Jara, could find himself on the lead in a race without much pace.

“Alma d’Oro is a very easy horse to maneuver around and ride,’’ said Jonathan Thomas, Pletcher’s assistant. “In a short field, whatever sort of pace scenario develops, he should be easy to maneuver.’’

Arson Squad, the most accomplished horse in the field, More Than a Reason, upset winner of the Queens County, and Goobada Guska, all could be compromised by an apparent lack of pace.