01/15/2011 5:57PM

Heart Butte tops one-two finish for Pletcher at Aqueduct


OZONE PARK, N.Y. -  After getting away with ridiculously soft early fractions under David Cohen, Heart Butte had plenty left to fend off stablemate Alma d’Oro in the stretch and win Saturday’s $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes by one length at Aqueduct.

Alma d’Oro held second by a nose over Arson Squad, the 7-5 favorite. Goombada Guska and More Than a Reason completed the order of finish. The first two finishers were both trained by Todd Pletcher, who ran 1-3 in this race last year with Understatement and Storm Play.

The win was the third straight for Heart Butte, and his first in a stakes race. Heart Butte, onwed by Claude Paul, is 3 for 4 since getting blinkers.

According to assistant trainer Jonathan Thomas, the initial game plan figured to have Alma d’Oro on the lead. But Heart Butte broke so well that he found himself in front through fractions of 26.58 seconds for the quarter, 51.67 for the half and 1:16.08 for three quarters. Alma d’Oro, under Fernando Jara, moved alongside Heart Butte down the backside, and was in close proximity at the quarter pole. But under an aggressive Cohen, Heart Butte outfinished his more accomplished stablemate for the victory. Heart Butte, a son of Empire Maker, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.08 over the inner track and returned $6.50 as the third choice in the field of five.

"Even though there was a leisurely pace they went just as slow as I did," Cohen said. "It was a sprint home and they were coming at him and he just gave it to me every step of the way. I don’t think he should be overlooked because of the slow pace; he still had to put forth a great effort."

It was the fifth win of the inner-track season for Pletcher, and his meet-leading 15th win.

"We had a game plan set up," Thomas said. "We went to Plan B which was okay. Whoever found themselves there the easiest. The main concern was they looked like the main speed and we didn’t want to take on each other."

Barring a change venue, Heart Butte and/or Alma d’Oro could show up next in the $65,000 Stymie Stakes at 1 1/8 miles here on Feb. 26.

Rare 0-fer for Dominguez

After winning 13 races from his last 29 mounts, Ramon Dominguez went 0 for 7 on Saturday’s card. It was only the second time from 22 inner-track cards at which he has ridden that Dominguez failed to win a race. He has a meet-leading 51 winners.

Dominguez finished second aboard Dirt Track Demon - the only horse covered in the pick six - in the ninth. There will be a pick-six carryover of $24,982 entering Sunday’s card.

First-time starter Flashpoint made a good-looking debut Saturday, going gate to wire under Cornelio Velasquez to win by 6 1/4 lengths over 1-4 favorite Simba’s Story. Flashpoint, a son of Pomeroy owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., ran six furlongs in 1:09.68, the third fastest six-furlong time of the meet.