04/02/2003 12:00AM

Pletcher cautious with 'Holiday'

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher returned to North America shortly after the running of last Saturday's Dubai World Cup, but his horse, Harlan's Holiday, was to remain at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse until this Saturday.

It's all part of the recovery process that Pletcher hopes will have Harlan's Holiday well prepared for a strong summer and fall campaign following his second-place finish in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

"Based on the little bit of research we did, by giving them a week or so to recuperate after the race makes the ship back a little less strenuous on them,'' Pletcher said Wednesday at Belmont Park.

Though it's a widely held belief that North American horses that run in Dubai never return to their top form, Pletcher believes that theory is overblown. One horse he points to is Victory Gallop, who returned from Dubai and won the Stephen Foster and Whitney handicaps before being injured and retired shortly after the Whitney. Victory Gallop remained in Dubai for at least a week following his third-place finish in the 1999 Dubai World Cup for trainer Elliott Walden.

"When I talked to Elliott before I went over there that's one of the things he felt helped Victory Gallop come back in good shape,'' Pletcher said. "The idea would be you wouldn't want to throw them on the plane the day after the race.''

Though Harlan's Holiday finished five lengths behind front-running winner Moon Ballad, Pletcher was satisfied with Harlan's Holiday's race. Harlan's Holiday, owned by Jack Wolf's Starlight Stable, earned $1.2 million for finishing second, pushing his career earnings to $3,475,164.

"If you're going to run second, that's the race to run second in,'' Pletcher said. "I thought he ran very well. Obviously, Moon Ballad ran a tremendous race; we were second best on the night.''

Pletcher said his first major goal for Harlan's Holiday would be the $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Aug. 2.

Indy Dancer will add blinkers

The addition of blinkers has produced improved results for such 3-year-olds as Empire Maker, During, and New York Hero. Pletcher hopes the same holds true for Indy Dancer, who will wear blinkers for the first time in the Wood Memorial April 12. Coincidentally, the three aforementioned horses will also run in the Wood Memorial.

Indy Dancer was 24 lengths off the pace early in the Florida Derby before rallying to finish third, 10 1/4 lengths behind Empire Maker.

"I need him to stay a little closer than he's been staying,'' Pletcher said. "He put himself in a hopeless position in the Florida Derby. He ran well to finish where he did, but he can't win a race form there. He can suck up and get a piece of it, but he can't win.''

Pletcher had tried blinkers on Indy Dancer in a March 4 workout at Palm Meadows in which the 3-year-old went five furlongs in 1:01.60.

"He worked fine with them, but he works fine without them, so the only way I'll really know is in a race situation,'' said Pletcher, who plans to give Indy Dancer his final Wood Memorial workout at Belmont Sunday morning.

Pletcher added that Lion Tamer, fourth in the Lane's End Stakes, could possibly make his next start in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 12. Pletcher said the handicapping sheets he refers to rate the race better than he initially thought.

"The race at Turfway, number-wise, came up a pretty huge race,'' Pletcher said. "From a number standpoint he didn't regress, which surprised me; he stayed equivalent to what he did in the Hutcheson and the allowance race. My immediate thought was he definitely needs to run back before the Derby, but after seeing the number I wasn't as positive about that but I'm still going to think about it.''

Prior to the Blue Grass, Lion Tamer won an allowance race and the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park.

New York Hero fires bullet

New York Hero, the Lane's End winner, worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds Wednesday morning at Aqueduct under exercise rider Rudy Rodriguez. It was the fastest of five works at the distance.

"My horses work within themselves, there's no money in the morning,'' said trainer Jennifer Pedersen. ``"Rudy said he wanted to run forever. He'll have that chance, hopefully.''

Pedersen said New York Hero would have one more work early next week.

Roar Emotion works four furlongs

Roar Emotion, who finished second in the Cicada March 22, worked four furlongs in 47.71 seconds Wednesday over Belmont's training track. Richard Migliore was aboard for the move, the fastest of 21 moves at the distance.

Trainer Carlos Martin said he still plans to avoid facing Storm Flag Flying if she runs in the Comely Stakes April 18. Instead, Roar Emotion would be pointed to an allowance race as a prep for the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico May 16.

"Joe Allen,'' Martin said, referring to Roar Emotion's owner, "would rather run in an allowance race and the Black-Eyed Susan and then take on Storm Flag Flying in the Mother Goose. It doesn't make sense to go against Storm Flag Flying for $100,000.''

* Peeping Tom, preparing for the Grade 1 Carter Handicap April 12, worked four furlongs in 47.92 seconds over Belmont's training track.

* Tarakan could be the one to beat in Friday's feature, a second-level allowance race for colts and geldings at six furlongs. Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., Tarakan had to alter course when third at this level over the inner track March 16.

* Preferred Option had to be euthanized after breaking her shoulder during a training accident Wednesday morning at Belmont. Preferred Option, a 4-year-old filly owned by Jerry Shields and trained by Allen Jerkens, won 4 of 17 starts and earned $156,200. Jockey Shannon Uske, who was aboard Preferred Option, was not injured.