03/29/2010 12:00AM

Musket Man targets Carter


Musket Man was talented enough to finish third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness as a 3-year-old, but trainer Derek Ryan believes the colt's at his best in one-turn races up to a mile.

Musket Man is 4 for 4 in such races, which makes him a prime contender in a deep renewal of Saturday's Grade 1 Carter Handicap at seven furlongs. Musket Man, a son of Yonaguska, was sent to the sidelines for the rest of 2009 following the Preakness last May. He returned in February with a half-length victory over Guam Typhoon in the seven-furlong Super Stakes at Tampa on Feb. 6.

Ryan said Musket Man was "a little body sore" after the Preakness, but that the major reason he stopped on him was because the Breeders' Cup was run on a synthetic surface last year. Ryan told owner Eric Fein "I want to turn him out and have a nice 4-year-old," said Ryan, who gave the staff at the Vinery credit for sending the horse back in good shape.

"Our main goal is the Met Mile, hopefully we do this, then we might run him back in Churchill on Derby Day and then the Met Mile, then freshen him up," Ryan said.

The field for the Carter includes Munnings, Digger, Elusive Warning, Wall Street Wonder, and Warrior's Reward.

Hushion, Ferrell eye Excelsior

After taking Saturday's $95,000 Ladies Stakes with Tidal Dance, owner Marc Ferrell and trainer Mike Hushion will set their sights on another rich prize with Goldsville in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Stakes.

After toiling unsuccessfully on synthetics and turf for a year in Southern California, Goldsville was transferred by Ferrell to Hushion earlier this year. In his return to dirt, Goldsville won a second-level allowance race at a mile and 70 yards by 1 3/4 lengths over the inner track. He earned a 94 Beyer.

"I think there's a chance he can go another step forward," Hushion said. "If he does, that'll make him very tough."

Others under consideration for the Excelsior include Duke of Mischief, Nite Light, Redding Colliery, and Timber Reserve.

Meanwhile, Hushion said Tidal Dance came out of her victory in the Ladies in good order, but that he has no set plan for her next start. Hushion did say he would like to keep Tidal Dance at 1 1/8 miles, which was the distance of the Ladies.

Pletcher wins inner-track title

While Todd Pletcher still seeks his first Kentucky Derby trophy, there is one thing he can now cross off his bucket list: an Aqueduct inner-track trainers' title.

Pletcher unseated four-time reigning inner-track kingpin Gary Contessa, 40-36, for the winter meet that concluded Saturday. Pletcher won 40 races from 106 starters at the meet, a 38 percent winning rate, while Contessa went 36 for 239 (15 perecent). Contessa had won the previous four inner-track meets and seven of the last 10. Steve Asmussen (27) and David Jacobson (25) were next, followed by the quartet of Bruce Brown, Hushion, Richard Dutrow Jr., and Bruce Levine, all with 21.

Meanwhile, Dominguez recorded his third consecutive inner-track riding title with 109 winners. David Cohen (87), Anna Napravnik (42), C.C. Lopez (39), and Angel Serpa (36) complete the top five.