11/20/2009 12:00AM

Piscitelli gearing up for Holy Bull


MIAMI - One of the more surprising sights during training hours here Friday was the red and white saddle towel of trainer Greg Sacco out on the track shortly after 8:30 a.m. It was even more surprising to learn the horse wearing the towel was Piscitelli, who less than two weeks earlier had finished fourth after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Piscitelli shipped into the Calder barn area last week, but his local stay will be short lived, according to Sacco.

"We flew him in here last Wednesday," Sacco said by phone from New Jersey later Friday morning. "We're just waiting for our stalls at Gulfstream Park to be ready. He'll probably move over there this weekend."

Sacco took the synthetic route with Piscitelli for much of the summer, running him at Arlington Park and Keeneland in preparation for the Breeders' Cup over the Pro-ride surface at Santa Anita. Now he'll put Piscitelli back on dirt for a 3-year-old campaign that figures to begin in Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull Stakes on Jan 23.

"I just have him in light training right now," said Sacco. "I wanted to let him unwind a little bit after the Breeders' Cup. My brother Rick has been handling Piscitelli for me on the road, and he's down there with him right now at Calder. I'll join them after the Meadowlands closes in a couple of weeks. This is a colt who is still maturing. He went through a real growth spurt over the summer, and that's why we took a shot for the Cup. I think he is a very interesting horse and has all the tools to be a good one."

Piscitelli turned in a game effort at the Breeders' Cup, finishing less than a length behind Juvenile winner Vale of York after leading to the head of the stretch under Kent Desormeaux.

"I thought he ran great in the Juvenile," said Sacco, who trains Piscitelli for owner William Schettine. "We hadn't planned to be on the lead. We'd hoped to use his tactical speed to lay third or fourth in the race, but when he broke so sharply, Kent decided to take advantage of the rail and the situation and put him on the lead.

"Unfortunately, our horse might have gotten a little confused being in front like that. But the fractions were good, and what I liked best about his race was the way he kept fighting after being passed in the stretch."

Excitement over Hialeah's return

Sacco, like many racing fans in south Florida, is looking forward to Hialeah reopening next weekend. The track, closed since 2001, will begin a Quarter Horse meet next Saturday. Sacco has trained for Hialeah owner John Brunetti since 1991, and his brother Rick worked there from 1993 until its closing in 2001. Rick Sacco is Greg's assistant as well as racing manager for Schettine and Brunetti.

"Naturally, I'm biased, but I think Hialeah is not only a landmark but serves a purpose on the south Florida racing circuit, much in the same manner Calder does during the summer and Gulfstream in the winter," said Greg Sacco. "It shouldn't be allowed to go by the wayside, and if it does come back, I think it can be a big thing for racing in this area."

Quick return for Bernie the Maestro

Bernie the Maestro, an unlucky fifth in the Appleton Juvenile Turf, will wheel back in eight days as the favorite in Sunday's $23,700 allowance feature for 2-year-olds at

1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Bernie the Maestro hesitated at the break before rushing to the lead from post 12 in the Appleton, disputing the pace to the stretch before tiring.

Bernie the Maestro also finished third over the main track in the Foolish Pleasure and Seacliff stakes earlier this year.

Jet Propulsion works toward stakes

Jet Propulsion worked an easy half-mile in 52 seconds over the main track for trainer Donna Green on Friday.

Jet Propulsion returned to his old form following a disappointing summer up north with an impressive

2 1/2-length allowance win over Pickapocket here Oct. 10. Jet Propulsion could make his next start in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap on Dec. 6.