01/18/2005 1:00AM

Hot start, even for Pletcher

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Yes Yes Yes, with John Velazquez up, wins a maiden race Monday, one of five 3-year-old races won by trainer Todd Pletcher over the three-day holiday weekend.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Most trainers competing at Gulfstream this winter would be delighted to win five 3-year-old races during the entire meet. It took Todd Pletcher only three days to accomplish that feat this past holiday weekend.

Pletcher sent out Harlington to win for the second time in as many starts over a sloppy track Saturday; came back Sunday to win with Passing Star, Monarch Lane, and Maddalena; then completed his big weekend when Yes Yes Yes dominated a field of maiden rivals in Monday's seventh event.

"I guess you can't do much better than that," said Pletcher. "Things were a little frustrating for us during the opening week of the meet. We had a lot of horses excluded or on the also-eligible list, but everything kind of jelled this week."

Pletcher, who also has Proud Accolade gearing up for his 3-year-old debut, said he will play things by ear regarding future engagements for his promising 3-year-olds, including Harlington, a son of Unbridled and the Hall of Fame mare Serena's Song.

"I'm really happy with Harlington's race on Saturday," said Pletcher. "He's improving every day, but he's still young and learning how to run, and I'd rather not throw him to the wolves right away. There won't be any allowance races for 3-year-olds in the next book, so our options are either the Holy Bull or to take him out of town."

Proud Accolade has not started since his disappointing effort in the Hollywood Futurity. He also finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after vaulting to the upper echelon of the division with his victory in the Grade 1 Champagne.

"I'll probably start Proud Accolade back at seven and one-half furlongs in the Hutcheson," said Pletcher. "We're still trying to figure out what happened in the Hollywood Futurity. He came back fine and is training well. The only thing I could put my finger on is that perhaps he was out there a little too long before the race. If I could have changed anything I would probably have waited and shipped him out right on top of the race."

Pletcher said the distance of the Hollywood Futurity is not an excuse for Proud Accolade's performance.

"It didn't matter how far he ran that day; he just didn't fire," said Pletcher. "If he hadn't won the Grade 1 Champagne at a mile and one sixteenth, I'd say maybe he was just a sprinter, and perhaps he will eventually turn out to be better going one turn. We'll have to see."

Pletcher said he is also high on Maddalena, who was an easy maiden winner in his debut last spring at Churchill Downs before returning from the long layoff to win Sunday's finale with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

"She's a very fast filly," said Pletcher. "She had a little setback after the race at Churchill, but she obviously came back very well. I'll take a look now at the Old Hat with her."

Pletcher also said that Breeders' Cup winner and Eclipse Award favorite Ashado will have her first breeze of the season next week.

"It's a long year, and we're in no rush to bring her back," said Pletcher. "Right now the plan is to point her for the Apple Blossom. I would have brought her back here in the Rampart, but the race is now a mile and one-eighth instead of a mile and a sixteenth, and I don't want to start her back at nine furlongs."

Five-win day for Velazquez

John Velazquez rode all five of Pletcher's winners and added another Monday aboard Nicky Santoro for trainer Wesley Ward. Nicky Santoro is owned by Ward in partnership with actor Joe Pesci and is named after the character Pesci portrayed in the movie "Casino."

Velazquez, the defending Gulfstream riding champion, finished the second week of the meet two victories behind Edgar Prado, who continues atop the jockey standings. Prado maintained his advantage by riding three winners on Monday's card.

Eddington finds new spark

Trainer Mark Hennig was all smiles after watching Eddington merely jog to a convincing 8 3/4-length allowance victory Sunday. The win was the second straight for Eddington, a multiple Grade 1-placed 4-year-old who closed out his 2004 campaign by capturing his turf debut in the Grade 3 Calder Derby.

"I realize he was taking a pretty good drop back in class, but he never has been quite that professional, and I'm hoping with these last two victories he's just got a newer outlook on the game," said Hennig. "The way he made that big middle move and had plenty in the tank at the end was really encouraging."

Hennig said he will keep his options open for Eddington's next start.

"I'll see how he comes out of the race and talk it over with the owners. The Strub at Santa Anita is a possibility, as is the race here," said Hennig, referring to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 5.

Lake may send two in First Lady

Cologny and Smokey Glacken have been assigned high weight of 117 pounds for Saturday's Grade 3 First Lady Handicap. Scott Lake, who trains Cologny, could also be represented in the race by Mystery's Jules, who registered an easy allowance victory earlier in the meet.

Trainers Bill Mott, Stanley Hough, Jimmy Jerkens, and Amy Tarrant also nominated two horses to the First Lady, a six-furlong filly and mare dash.

Jerkens trio joins busy track

After being quiet for several days because of last weekend's rains, the racetrack was full of activity Tuesday morning. Three of the most notable workers came from trainer Allen Jerkens, who sent out Society Selection (three furlongs in 38.20 seconds), Medallist (four furlongs in 48), and Passing Shot (six furlongs in 1:16).

Jerkens said Grade 1 winner Passing Shot, who is coming off a very dull effort to close out her 2004 campaign at Calder, will run in Sunday's $60,000 Banshee Breeze Stakes.

"We'll see if she can bounce back or if she needs to be retired," said Jerkens.

Other workers included Mooji Moo, who worked a half in 48.20 while preparing to defend her title in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, and Defer, who drilled five furlongs in 1:01 and continues to look sharp for trainer Shug McGaughey while getting ready for his 3-year-old debut.