01/13/2006 12:00AM

No record for Monarch Lane, but Pletcher beams anyway


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Monarch Lane's new track record lasted less than 24 hours but it was the magnitude of the performance, not the final time, that had trainer Todd Pletcher all smiles.

Monarch Lane was originally credited with running a mile in 1:34.02 seconds for his 6 1/2-length victory in Thursday's ninth race. That time would have broken the existing track record of 1:34.25 set here last April by Nakayama Kim. But a teletimer malfunction just before the start forced the race to be timed manually, and after reassessing the original clocking, the track timer, in conjunction with the Equibase chart crew, changed the official time to 1:35.50.

"There are conflicting reports as to the actual time of the race, but regardless of the time I thought Monarch Lane ran a very good race," Pletcher said at his barn Friday morning. "I'm just happy to get him back and have him run well after he had to have knee surgery following his start in the Illinois Derby."

Monarch Lane launched his career here last winter with a 5 3/4-length maiden allowance victory, then finished third in a key one-other-than allowance race behind Sun King and Survivalist. But his 3-year-old campaign came to a premature end following his second-place finish to Greeley's Galaxy in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby.

"I'm not sure where he'll go next, but it won't be in the Donn Handicap," said Pletcher. "We might bring him back in another allowance race or possibly look out of town for a stakes."

Pletcher, who won nine races during the first five days of the meet, plans to start Maddalena in next Saturday's Grade 3 First Lady Handicap. Maddalena won 2 of 3 starts here last winter, including the Old Hat Stakes by seven lengths. She was also second in the Grade 1 Prioress before ending her campaign by finishing second in Laurel's Grade 3 Safely Kept Stakes in October.

"We gave her some time off to rest up after the Safely Kept and have been pointing her for the First Lady for quite a while," said Pletcher. "She ran well here last winter, and it's time to gear her up and get her season started."

Maddalena is one of 12 fillies and mares nominated for the six-furlong First Lady.

Decision time with Second of June

Second of June, whose Kentucky Derby aspirations ended suddenly following his gutsy second-place finish in the 2004 Fountain of Youth, is back at Gulfstream Park this winter, although his future remains uncertain.

Second of June suffered a condylar fracture of his cannon bone during the running of the Fountain of Youth that kept him sidelined until the final month of the season. The injury was discovered shortly after Second of June dropped a tough neck decision to Read the Footnotes following a stretchlong battle in the Fountain of Youth. Second of June had jumped to the upper echelon of the division three weeks earlier with a 2 3/4-length triumph in the Holy Bull that earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 111.

Trainer Bill Cesare finally got Second of June back to the races in December of 2004 and appeared to have him on top of his game again last spring following a third-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap and a second in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. But Second of June suffered another setback, developing an inflammation in his left hind ankle that has still not completely healed.

Second of June is currently stabled in Barn 19 at Gulfstream, where he has been walking the shed row for the past couple of months, although Cesare has yet to make a final decision on his future.

"Right now I'm contemplating sending him to stud before it gets too late in the season," Cesare said while watching Second of June under tack on Friday. "We've been taking X-rays every month and he's improving, in fact his ankles never looked better, but right now I'm not sure what to do. In my heart I want to see him come back and race. I don't believe he ever got a fair shake because of his injuries, but I also want to do what's best for the horse and don't want to see him get hurt."

* Cesare lit up the tote board here Thursday when he sent out Flight to Justice to win the fifth race at 45-1. The victory was the first for the 5-year-old since June 2004.