02/15/2007 12:00AM

Pletcher on familiar path with 'Saturday'


A year ago, trainer Todd Pletcher used the Sam F. Davis Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby as springboards to second-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes with Bluegrass Cat. Pletcher will return to Tampa Bay Downs again this winter with another of his top Triple Crown hopefuls, Any Given Saturday, who figures to be the odds-on favorite over six other 3-year-olds in the $150,000 Sam F. Davis.

Bluegrass Cat won the 2006 Sam F. Davis only to be upset by Deputy Glitters in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby. And like Bluegrass Cat, Any Given Saturday will fly the colors of WinStar Farm when he makes his 3-year-old debut Saturday.

Any Given Saturday, a son of Distorted Humor, won two of his three starts at 2. He suffered his only setback at the hands of Tiz Wonderful when beaten a half-length in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25.

"I wanted to give him a little extra time after the Churchill race, which kind of pushed us off the Feb. 3 races," said Pletcher of his reason for running in the Sam F. Davis. "He's a nice colt and he's doing everything right so far this winter."

After the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby here March 17, Pletcher is charting a course for the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.

"The two races at Tampa should be a perfect setup for him for the Blue Grass," he said. "He's already run well over the Polytrack at Keeneland, and I thought it made the most sense to give him his final prep there for the Derby."

As he did last season with Bluegrass Cat, jockey John Velazquez will make the trip to Tampa to ride Any Given Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis.

Monster Drive, a lightly raced New York-bred trained by Bill Mott, and Brisco N Logan, an impressive maiden winner at Calder last year, may provide Any Given Saturday with his most serious competition.

Monster Drive looms the likely pacesetter coming off a pair of six-furlong races over the Aqueduct inner dirt track to close out his 2-year-old campaign. A son of Commendable, Monster Drive dropped a tough half-length decision to Trust Nobody after racing greenly in his debut. He returned four weeks later to post a 1 1/4-length decision over Zipperoo, who won next out.

Brisco N Logan has been idle since drawing off to a 10-length maiden victory on Dec. 23. He has worked forwardly for trainer Bobby Barbara at Gulfstream.