01/08/2010 12:00AM

Pletcher has another hot one in Eskendereya


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher's laundry list of Kentucky Derby prospects grew a little larger following Eskendereya's 1 1/4-length victory over Thank U Philippe in a good field of entry-level allowance horses here Thursday.

Eskendereya, a son of Giant's Causeway, was making his first start since finishing ninth after encountering early trouble in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. Forwardly placed from the outset Thursday under jockey John Velazquez, Eskendereya turned back several challenges and proved clearly best at the end of a mile.

"He won this race the right way, very professionally," Pletcher said. "He shook off some nice horses and he galloped out strong. I was very pleased."

Pletcher said he will look for a stakes for Eskendereya's next start, but where and when remains up in the air.

"The Fountain of Youth is a possibility, although I don't know if he needs to wait that long to come back," said Pletcher. "The one thing I am sure of is that getting a mile and one-eighth will be no problem."

Two scratched after gate ruckus

Thursday's main event did lose two of its 12 prospective starters at the gate when Our Repent acted up after being loaded, turning around in his stall and kicking next-door neighbor Launch N Relaunch. Both horses were scratched on the advice of the track veterinarian.

Trainer Rick Dutrow said Launch N Relaunch, who had won his only start, came out of the incident none the worse for wear. In fact he sent the son of Harlan's Holiday right back out to work five furlongs in 1:03.60 here on Friday morning.

"He was fine and could have started, but I understand their policy and why the horse was scratched," said Dutrow. "I would rather have seen him run but no big deal. I put him right back in on the grass for Wednesday. He's bred everywhere for turf, and if he's going to turn out to be a good horse, we've got plenty of time."

Trainer Jim Hatchett said Our Repent "got scuffed up a little" during the incident, although he, too, seemed to be fine the next morning.

"I'll give him a couple of days and then send him out to the track and see how he's doing before deciding on where to run next," said Hatchett. "I can't tell you how disappointed I was that happened. I've been waiting a month to run that horse over here."

Smith's trip for naught

The biggest loser when it came to the two late scratches on Thursday was jockey Mike Smith, who had flown in from California specifically to ride Launch N Relaunch. Smith had been aboard when the colt won his maiden in New York.

"I think he could turn out to be a good 3-year-old and I was hoping to get a chance to see what he could do today," Smith said immediately after the race was made official. "The timing was perfect for me to make the trip down here to ride the horse this time, but that might not be the case the next time he's in."

Dry Martini headed to grass again

Barring a change in surface due to rain, Dry Martini will step back on the grass in Sunday's Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale for the first time in more than 14 months. Dry Martini, who had the best year of his career at the age of 6 in 2009, last tried turf in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont in October of 2008. Dry Martini has made just 3 of his 29 career starts on the grass.

"The idea was to give him a race before the Sunshine Millions," said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg, noting that the team had considered the one-mile Hal's Hope last weekend, "but it came up pretty tough."

"Although grass is not his preferred surface, he did run a 97 Beyer on it once and should he run well it will give us another option, either here in the Sunshine Millions Turf or the Classic over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita," she said.

The Sunshine Millions will be run at Gulfstream and Santa Anita on Jan. 30.

Dry Martini won 2 of 8 starts, including the Grade 2 Suburban, and earned more than $644,000 a year ago for owner Carol Nyren.

Fasig-Tipton expands sponsorship

Fasig-Tipton, which already sponsors the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, has also signed on to sponsor the Filly Festival on Feb. 27. The newly created event will feature four stakes for females, the Grade 2 Davona Dale, Grade 3 Sabin, the Grade 3 The Very One, and the Grade 2 Honey Fox. The Very One and Honey Fox are carded for the turf.

Both the Honey Fox and The Very One were moved from their original spots on the stakes schedule on Feb. 20 and 28, respectively, while the Mac Diarmida, which had been carded for the 27th, will now replace The Very One on Feb. 28.

The 2010 Fasig-Tipton select 2-year-olds in training sale is scheduled for March 2 at Calder.

* Trainer Chad Brown showcased a potential candidate for the Honey Fox here Thursday, the English-bred filly Tottie. A 4-year-old daughter of Fantastic Light, Tottie overcame a slow start and very wide trip to rally from nearly a dozen lengths off the pace for a 1 1/4-length victory under Jose Lezcano in her U.S. debut.

* Country Code lit up the tote board in Friday's second race, drawing off to an easy victory at 70-1 for trainer Leo Azpurua and jockey Daniel Coa. Country Code, who won his maiden two starts back at Calder under a $12,500 claiming price, was wearing blinkers for the first time in the conditioned claiming dash for $15,000 platers. He paid $161.