01/15/2010 12:00AM

Pletcher aiming Aikenite at Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Nominations are out for next Saturday's one-mile Holy Bull, the first major test for 3-year-olds here at Gulfstream Park this winter. The list is dominated, not unexpectedly, by Todd Pletcher, who trains eight of the 51 3-year-olds eligible for the race, although of Pletcher's group only one, Aikenite, will start.

Aikenite has not raced since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That performance closed out a juvenile campaign that also included a late-running third in the Grade 1 Hopeful along with his sharp second-place effort behind Noble's Promise in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

"He shipped right to Palm Meadows after the Breeders' Cup and has been training well since coming down here," said Pletcher. "I thought he ran a good race in the Breeders' Cup. In retrospect, if I had to do it over again, I might have had him lay a little closer to the pace that day. He left the gate with run on his mind, but the way the track was playing, favoring come-from-behind horses, we decided to take him back."

Pletcher also outlined plans for his other Holy Bull nominees, beginning with Discreetly Mine, who finished a troubled fourth as the 9-5 favorite in last Saturday's Spectacular Bid.

"We're thinking of one of three races for him next," said Pletcher, mentioning the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 13, the Hutcheson here on Feb. 20, and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, also on Feb. 20.

Pletcher said Mission Impazible, who finished second to stablemate Three Day Rush in an allowance race last Saturday, would likely return in the Southwest at Oaklawn on Feb. 15. Three Day Rush could make his next start at Aqueduct in the Whirlaway on Feb. 6.

"I thought Mission Impazible ran a good race in his comeback," said Pletcher. "The Whirlaway should provide a good opportunity for Three Day Rush to stretch out. We're not sure what his best distance is at the moment."

Pletcher intends to run No Shenanigans and the undefeated Overcommunication next in allowance races, while two-time stakes winner Toboggan Slide could make his 3-year-old debut in the Hutcheson. Pletcher also has nothing firmed up at the moment for Eskendreya, a popular allowance winner here last week.

A small but talented field is shaping up for the Holy Bull, and along with Aikenite is expected to include Homeboykris, Jackson Bend, Winslow Homer, and Piscitelli.

Piscitelli had his final major tune- up for the Holy Bull on Friday, working five-eighths in 1:01.20 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.70 at Palm Meadows with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard. A son of Victory Gallop, Piscitelli finished fourth while beaten less than a length after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Piscitelli was trained as a 2-year-old by by Gregory Sacco but is currently under the tutelage of his brother Rick, who is the racing manager and private trainer for owner William Schettine.

Trainer Tom Albertrani has seven nominated to the Holy Bull but will not start any in the race. His two most advanced 3-year-olds are Middle of the Nite, who finished third, beaten two lengths by Eskendreya here a week ago, and Odysseus, who defeated a strong field of maidens in Thursday's last race.

"We always liked Odysseus from the beginning and that was a nice effort on Thursday, since it was a pretty loaded field he beat," said Albertrani. "We'll try him at the next allowance level at either a mile or around two turns and just assess him as he goes along."

Albertrani said Middle of the Night could be pointed for the Sam Davis.

"We have a lot of 3-year-olds we think highly of, but at the moment, these are the only two who have broken their maidens," said Albertrani. "But it's still early. We still have plenty of time."

Odysseus was the first horse Albertrani started since returning from a 30-day suspension he served for an acepromazine positive he received this fall in Kentucky.

Four-win day for Maragh

Odysseus's victory was the last of four on the afternoon for jockey Rajiv Maragh, who also won opener with Roma Tomato, the sixth aboard Piratesonthelake, and co-featured eighth on Khancord Kid. The big day vaulted Maragh into a share of the lead in the jockey standings along with John Velazquez and defending champ Jose Lezcano.

Maragh is riding full-time at Gulfstream this season after spending the past several winters in New York.

* The American Graded Stakes Committee has reinstated the Grade 3 rating of the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes for another year. The Ft. Lauderdale was automatically downgraded, pending review, after the event was switched from the turf to the main track last Sunday due to rain. The decision to reinstate the Grade 3 rating was based on the quality of the horses who competed in the race following the surface change.

* Court Vision worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 here Friday. Idle since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Court Vision is being pointed by trainer Rick Dutrow for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on Feb. 6. Dutrow won the race last year with Kip Deville.