09/27/2005 11:00PM

Plesa hoping 'Mecke' still has some of that ol' magic

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MIAMI - Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. is in a nip-and-tuck battle for the training title with Tim Ritvo, but he has several other important matters on his mind. Along with the imminent return of B. B. Best and the two-turn debut of his 2-year-old filly prospect Stolen Prayers in the upcoming My Dear Girl Stakes, Plesa is awaiting the return of Magic Mecke in Saturday's $100,000 Flying Pidgeon Handicap.

Magic Mecke vaulted to the top of the local 3-year-old turf division during the winter of 2003, following his one-length victory in the Pete Axthelm Stakes. He further enhanced his reputation when opening his 4-year-old campaign in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park, where he dropped a one-length decision to Proud Man despite a terrible trip. Following eighth-place finishes in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Carterista Handicap, Magic Mecke went to the sidelines, where he remained for the next 17 months.

"I was really excited about him as a 3-year-old. He showed me he could be any kind of horse, but then he just had a series of things go wrong," said Plesa. "Every time I'd crank him up, he'd have another problem. It was just one thing after another. But those things are behind him now. He's 110 percent right at the moment and as fit as you can get a horse going into a race.

"I realize a mile and one-eighth off this long a layoff is a tall order, but it wouldn't be a tremendous surprise to me if he won."

The Flying Pidgeon drew a full field of 12, including Keep Cool, Bob's Proud Moment, Final Prophecy, and Handsome Smile.

B. B. Best, third behind High Fly in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby this winter at Gulfstream, has not started since April 30. He was scheduled to return in the American Dreamer Stakes on Aug. 21 but was scratched after he spiked a temperature 48 hours before the race.

"I have two possible races coming up: the Calder Derby on grass or a six-furlong stakes over the main track, if worse comes to worse," said Plesa. "I wanted to work him on the turf last Monday to see how he handled it, but they closed the course due to rain. I'll try it again this Monday. He couldn't be doing better, but I'm just not sure if he'll like the grass, and I don't want to just throw him out there if he can't handle it."

Stolen Prayer earned a spot in the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl, the final leg of the Stallion Stakes, with a wire-to-wire victory in a first-level allowance race here Saturday. The victory was her second in three starts and came in her first outing since she suffered her lone loss in Belmont's Fashion Stakes on June 9.

"I was pleased with her race, because even though she got a little tired the last part, she set tremendous fractions," said Plesa. "Under normal circumstances I might question whether she'll go two turns, but I've already worked her a mile, and she went in 1:46, and did it easily. I've been planning on the My Dear Girl the whole time, and this race should do her good, mentally and physically."

Plesa and Ritvo are tied for the lead in the trainer standings with 39 wins apiece with two weeks left in the session.

"If they had a morning line for the trainers' race, I'd make Timmy the favorite, because he runs a lot more horses than I do," said Plesa. "And if he wins it I'd be tickled to death. He's a young, aggressive trainer who works hard and would deserve it if he got it.

"Needless to say, I'd also be very happy if I'm fortunate enough to win, because it's always a feather in your cap and my barn has worked awfully hard all year."