04/08/2011 4:45PM

Life At Ten starts season at Gulfstream

Barbara D. Livingston
Life At Ten will make her first start since the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic on Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Life At Ten, who received more publicity for a race she didn’t win last season than the two Grade 1’s she did, will finally get a chance to make some news again on the racetrack when launching her 2011 campaign going a mile under optional claiming conditions in Sunday’s fifth race at Gulfstream Park.

Life At Ten, her connections, and Churchill Downs chief state steward John Veitch became the subject of a four-month investigation that began after jockey John Velazquez pulled her up less than halfway through the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Before the race, Velazquez had made comments to television broadcasters during the post parade saying Life At Ten was not warming up properly, but did not notify the stewards. The commission charged him with three violations racing statutes, which included a failure to ride out his mount and a failure to present Life At Ten to state veterinarians after making the comments. Velazquez was also charged under a catch-all regulation requiring riders to act “in the best interest of racing.”

Velazquez agreed to pay a $10,000 fine earlier this week in a settlement with the Kentucky Racing Commission while stating that he was “not conceding any guilt” in the matter. A separate case aganst Veitch remains open.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who was found blameless of any wrongdoing by investigators, said he’d rather not talk about the incident and instead focus on what lies ahead this year for Life At Ten, who captured five of seven starts and earned $999,000 a year ago.

“I just want to put all this behind us now,” said Pletcher who will not be in attendance here Sunday. “It’s just so unfair to the filly. She had a tremendous year, won two Grade 1 races as well as the Delaware Handicap, and all everyone remembers is the Breeders’ Cup.”

Life At Ten has had eight works at Palm Meadows this winter, including a six-furlong drill in 1:13.40 on Sunday.

“She’s trained well this winter just like she always has,” said Pletcher who trains Life At Ten for owner Candy DeBartolo. “We had other possibilities to start the year but when the allowance race filled we felt it was a good spot to get her back on the right track. She’s had two good three-quarter works and is ready to run well first time back. Hopefully this will be the start of another very productive season for her.”

Pletcher said his first major goal for Life At Ten this year will be to defend her title in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont on June 18.

Life At Ten is scheduled to face six rivals on Sunday, including Glotona, who was also entered Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs in the $75,000 Turf Distaff for statebreds.

Belle Watling and Joanie’s Catch lead the competition, which also includes The Isabella Angel, Musical Romance, and Jehan.

Belle Watling has disappointed in her first two starts since being purchased privately out of her native Chile at the end of her 2010 campaign. Belle Watling finished a tiring fourth after setting a slow pace making her U.S. debut in the Grade 3 The Very One on grass, then returned to dirt where she was a distant third behind Amazing under high-priced optional claiming conditions on March 11.

Joanie’s Catch was scratched out of Saturday’s Rampart and seeks her first victory in six starts in 2011.