12/18/2006 1:00AM

Pletcher ban not yet begun

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Trainer Todd Pletcher's 45-day suspension did not start on Monday as expected, according to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

A board spokesman on Monday said that the board will most likely take up Pletcher's case at its monthly board meeting on Thursday, at which point "it is anticipated that the board will set Dec. 27 as the start date for his 45-day suspension," said board spokesman Daniel Toomey.

Pletcher's name does not appear on the board meeting's agenda for Thursday, though Toomey said it could be added.

Pletcher faces a 45-day suspension and a $3,000 fine for the finding of mepivacaine in the postrace sample of Tales of Glory, who won the third race at Saratoga on Aug.o14, 2004. Pletcher's appeal of the suspension was denied in New York State Supreme Court.

Pletcher told Daily Racing Form on Friday that he was going to begin his suspension on Monday, but was still planning to take his case to the federal level in an effort to clear his name. Pletcher went as far as to transfer his horses to his assistants based in New York, south Florida, and Southern California.

Anthony Sciametta Jr., Pletcher's Florida assistant, was named as the trainer of record for Pletcher horses who ran at Calder on Monday and who are entered there for Friday. New York is dark through Dec. 27. Southern California is dark until Dec. 26.

Contacted by phone in south Florida on Monday, Pletcher sounded somewhat surprised to hear that his days had not yet started. Pletcher said he did not go to Palm Meadows for morning training, nor did he attend the races at Calder that afternoon.

"My attorneys told me to start the suspension today," said Pletcher, who referred further comment to his attorneys. Pletcher's attorneys did not return phone calls on Monday.

If Dec. 27 becomes the first day of Pletcher's suspension, the first day he would be eligible to return to a track or track-owned training center would be Feb. 10.

Pletcher is the two-time defending Eclipse Award-winning trainer and is favored to win it again this year after setting single-year records for purse money ($27.6omillion) and graded stakes wins (57).