02/14/2010 1:00AM

Munnings helps Pletcher double his pleasure

Bob Cognialese
Munnings, under Javier Castellano, takes the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Munnings completed an intrastate daily double for trainer Todd Pletcher when he launched his 2010 campaign with a hard-fought, one-length victory over Congressional Page in Saturday's $150,000 .

Fifteen minutes earlier, while in the process of saddling Munnings, Pletcher watched on a television monitor from the paddock as his Rule captured the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Munnings, who finally got to race over a fast track for the first time since capturing the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont Park in July, prompted the early pace of Biker Boy, who set relatively soft fractions of 23.25 and 46.22 seconds in the 6 1/2-furlong Sprint Championship. Munnings finally disposed of Biker Boy near midstretch, edged clear, then maintained a safe advantage to the end under jockey Javier Castellano.

Congressional Page was forced to race wide throughout and outfinished the slow-starting Motovato and rail- skimming Inkado to be second.

Munnings, a son of Speightstown owned by the partnership of Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, paid $4 as the even-money favorite in a field of nine older horses. The final time was 1:22.49 over a fast track.

"It certainly was a good 15 minutes," Pletcher said in the winner's circle following Munnings's victory. "I was very pleased with his performance considering preparations hadn't gone like we'd wanted and he'd missed a prep in the Mr. Prospector when we scratched because of the wet track. I felt he would probably need this race to run his very best."

Pletcher said Munnings could run back in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap here on March 13 or await the Grade 1 Carter on April 3 at Aqueduct.

"We'd like to get that elusive Grade 1 win for him," said Pletcher.

Kays and Jays prevails in Hurricane Bertie

The well-traveled Kays and Jays, who has competed at eight different tracks during her 11-race career, successfully took her road show to Gulfstream Park, where she registered a game half-length victory over Tar Heel Mom for her first graded stakes victory in the $125,000 .

Kays and Jays forced the pace from the outset of the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie, stalking Dr. Zic through early splits of 22.60 and 45.52. A daughter of Macho Uno, Kays and Jays gained a short advantage leaving the quarter pole, edged clear, then withstood a prolonged challenge from Tar Heel Mom through the final furlong.

Tar Heel Mom raced well placed just off and outside the leaders, went after Kays and Jays approaching the furlong marker but was not good enough. Warbling, the 5-2 co-choice along with the winner, had to alter course briefly behind the top pair in early stretch but lacked a sufficient response, finishing another 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third.

Kays and Jays covered the distance in 1:16.30 and paid $7.40

"I sent her there mainly because I wanted dirt," said trainer Mike Mitchell by phone from California. "She ran so well in Texas on the dirt as well as at Calder when I sent her there last summer. She handles synthetics okay but I think she's a better horse on dirt. I wanted to get her to be a graded stakes winner. It makes her worth more money than just being a regular stakes winner, and now she is."

Mitchell sent Kays and Jays to his friend and colleague, trainer Wesley Ward, for the Hurricane Bertie and will keep her with Ward for the Grade 2, $150,000 Inside Information on March 14.