Updated on 09/17/2011 11:01AM

Pletcher babies go head to head

Heckle is part of an uncoupled entry for trainer Todd Pletcher in Thursday's Sanford Stakes for 2-year-olds.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Thus far, Todd Pletcher has done a masterful job keeping his 2-year-olds from racing against each other. That comes to an end Thursday.

Pletcher, who has already won five juvenile stakes this year, will send out Flash winner Chapel Royal against Tremont winner Heckle in Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes. A field of seven was entered for the Sanford, run at six furlongs, including the coupled entry of Adage and Boston Brahmin for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Pletcher said he would prefer not to run two of his top juveniles against each other, but at this stage of the year, he has few options.

"In this situation we've got two horses from different owners, and we're going to have to run some of them together, and this seems like the logical spot for these horses to run,' said Pletcher said, who trains Chapel Royal for Michael Tabor and Heckle for Dogwood Stable.

Thursday, traditionally the slowest day of the meet, features the first giveaway of the season as fans will receive an Edgar Prado bobblehead doll with paid admission. The doll honors Prado as the meet's leading rider in 2002.

Chapel Royal, a son of Mont-brook, has won his first two starts by a combined 14 1/2 lengths. He is coming off an easy 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Flash Stakes at Belmont on June 6. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 for that performance.

Three weeks later, Heckle rebounded from a fourth-place finish as the favorite in the Three Chimneys Juvenile with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Tremont.

Chapel Royal will break from post 2 under John Velazquez while Heckle leaves from post 5. Both horses will carry 122 pounds.

"Heckle's real strength is he's very quick; he's good from the gate and he's likely to be the pacesetter no matter who's in there,' Pletcher said. "Chapel Royal has very good tactical speed, but I don't think he has to be on the lead. If a situation unfolds where Heckle is on the lead and Chapel Royal is laying off of it we wouldn't mind that.'

If the track comes up muddy, Heckle may have an edge over his stablemate. Heckle, a son of Hennessy, won his maiden at Keeneland by 12 1/4 lengths in the mud and his time of 51.06 seconds equaled the track record for 4 1/2 furlongs.

Lukas, who has won the Sanford five times, sends out the Overbrook Farm entry of Adage and Boston Brahmin. Adage, a son of Tale of the Cat, comes out of a second-place finish behind Heckle in the Grade 3 Tremont and gets Lasix for the first time.

"He didn't get away well, but he was one of the only horses that was closing,' Lukas said. "He made a nice run through the stretch, and there's a lot of speed in that race, so if it gets really hot up front he'll be okay.'

Boston Brahmin could be part of that hot early pace. A son of Boston Harbor, Boston Brahmin romped to a 9 1/2-length win when Lasix and blinkers were added for his second start at Belmont. He did not seem to handle the mud, however, when he finished last in his debut.

"I hope it doesn't come up mud,' Lukas said.

Trainer Eoin Harty has seen fit to ship in Flushing Meadows from Southern California for the Sanford. Flushing Meadows, a son of Grand Slam who won a maiden race at Hollywood Park, is favorably drawn to the outside under jockey David Flores.

Pretty Wild Again won his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths in the slop at Belmont before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Tremont when he was forced to steady on the turn.

Blushing Indian, trained by Dale Romans, is a longshot, but his late-running style may enable him to pick up a piece.