03/19/2011 1:58PM

'Other' Pletcher 3-year-old wins Gulfstream allowance race

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Bob Coglianese
Dance City (right) noses out his stablemate Cal Nation in a 3-year-old allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It was no surprise that trainer Todd Pletcher won the third race here Saturday. What was a surprise to many was the horse he won the race with.

Pletcher sent out the first and second finishers in the one-mile, entry-level allowance test for 3-year-olds, with the lesser-regarded Dance City outgaming the 1-5 Cal Nation under jockey Javier Castellano. Bowman’s Causeway, a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in his previous start, finished third after racing prominently throughout.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Dance City, a son of City Zip, paid $15.80 in the six-horse field. He was coming off a maiden win going nine furlongs earlier in the meet, and the extra conditioning he received from that start might have proved the difference in the crucial final yards. Cal Nation, a sensational winner of his only previous outing six weeks earlier, had yet to run beyond seven furlongs. Cal Nation, ridden by John Velazquez, did stick his head in front of his pacesetting stablemate in early stretch but could not hold the advantage at the end.

“The idea was not to run the two of them against one another,” Pletcher said exiting the winner’s circle. “We had entered Cal Nation the last two weeks and the races didn’t go.”

Pletcher called the choice of mounts “a tough decision” for Velazquez, “because he’s been working both of them and they’ve both been working well. It wasn’t a case of one being a whole lot better than the other. I hate to run two horses together like that.”

Pletcher said he’s not sure what would be next for either Dance City or Cal Nation but did not rule out a possible shot at one of the remaining Kentucky Derby preps.

“Both arrived a little late on the scene as far as the Derby is concerned, but I’ll talk to the connections of both horses and then decide what to do next.”

Mucho Macho Man works easily

Mucho Macho Man completed his preparations for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby with an easy five-furlong workout in 1:02.78 seconds shortly after the first renovation break here Saturday. With jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard, Mucho Macho Man was slow to settle into stride, covering his opening quarter-mile in 26.32 seconds before picking up the pace steadily thereafter, completing his final quarter in 24.48 seconds under just slight urging and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.39. The work was similar in nature to his final breeze before an impressive victory last month in the Risen Star.

Mucho Macho Man, trained by Kathy Ritvo, is scheduled to ship to the Fair Grounds on Wednesday.

* Like Mucho Macho Man, Kathmanblu will also return to Louisiana this week, where she will be the heavy favorite to win the Fair Grounds Oaks. She too had her final prep here Saturday, working a bullet five furlongs in 59.80 seconds for trainer Ken McPeek. Kathmanblu won the Rachel Alexandra Stakes in her last start.