06/25/2008 11:00PM

Pleasant Strike can snap skid


Pleasant Strike won the Grade 3 Arlington Classic by almost four lengths last June, and he looked like he might be a decent candidate for the Grade 1 Secretariat later in the summer. But looks can be deceiving. Seven races later, his big win in Chicago has begun looking like a career high point, and Pleasant Strike comes into the $60,000 Daniel Van Clief on Saturday at Colonial Downs on a seven-race losing streak that dates to the Arlington Classic.

Still, he may be favored to break the losing skein in the Van Clief, a 1 1/16-mile grass race that drew 12 entries. Pleasant Strike races for the ever-popular Todd Pletcher stable, and gets the riding services of Horacio Karamanos, who has won with 38 percent of his mounts this Colonial meet. And even though Pleasant Strike was ninth last out in an allowance race, that allowance race was of the very high-end variety at Keeneland, and in the Van Clief, Pleasant Strike will run against Virginia-bred competition for the first time in his career.

Among his foes is Frisky Thunder, who won a Virginia-bred turf stakes by more than five lengths June 14 at Colonial. But that race came over 5 1/2 furlongs, and while Frisky Thunder was victorious two races ago over nine furlongs, the pace scenario in the Van Clief might be against him Saturday.

Love Conquers and Mount Weather, the second- and third-place finishers in the 2007 Van Clief, both are back for another go, and their similar late-running styles might fit nicely into the race shape this year.