10/07/2006 12:00AM

Pletcher gets earnings record in Beldame


ELMONT, N.Y. - By doing something she had not shown she could do before, Fleet Indian enabled Todd Pletcher to do something no trainer had ever done before.

Accustomed to racing on the lead, Fleet Indian demonstrated she could be equally effective from off the pace, rallying from fourth position to win Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 at Belmont Park by a head over late-running Balletto. It was seven lengths back to Round Pond in third.

Fleet Indian's eighth consecutive victory was worth $360,000, thus enabling Pletcher to officially break the single-year earnings record he set in 2005. The Beldame win gave Pletcher $21,213,794 in earnings, eclipsing the mark of $20,867,842 he set last year. Pletcher would add to it by winning the Flower Bowl with Honey Ryder in the next race.

"It's great that we were able to do it in a big race," Pletcher said. "It's just been a great year."

Fleet Indian, a 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Indian Charlie, has accounted for $1,473,720 in earnings and six stakes. In most of her stakes wins this year, Fleet Indian was the dominant force, either racing on or close to the lead. Saturday, she broke poorly and raced a close-up fourth while Take D' Tour set the pace, hounded by Teammate and Round Pond.

Round Pound, under Edgar Prado, took a short lead after running six furlongs in 1:10.36, but Jose Santos guided Fleet Indian to the four path approaching the quarter pole. She took the lead straightening for home and was able to hold off Balletto at the wire. Fleet Indian, who beat by Balletto by 4o1/4 lengths in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.69 and returned $3.80.

"We figured that we wouldn't be on the lead necessarily, but she kind of took care of that by not breaking very well," said Pletcher, who trains Fleet Indian for Paul Saylor. "But she seemed to adapt to it real well."

Though Balletto seemed to be gaining on Fleet Indian down the lane, Santos didn't think Balletto was ever going to get past her.

"I hit her once right-handed, then when Balletto came to her I switched my stick to my left hand and hit her and she just kept going," Santos said.

Fleet Indian now heads to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs as the probable favorite.