04/15/2004 11:00PM

Pletcher has plenty for Withers


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher, who likely will be represented by Pollard's Vision and Limehouse in the Kentucky Derby, also will see action at Aqueduct on Derby Day in the Grade 2 Withers.

Pletcher will nominate three horses, all of whom ran April 10 at Aqueduct and are owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, to the one-mile Withers - Bay Shore winner Forest Danger; Value Plus, who finished sixth as the favorite in the Wood Memorial; and Shaniko, the winner of an allowance race on the Wood Memorial undercard.

"We'll only run one, but we might possibly enter more than one," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said Value Plus is the least likely to run in the $150,000 Withers. As of Friday, Pletcher hadn't totally pulled the plug on running Value Plus in the Kentucky Derby, but he said it was doubtful.

Forest Danger scored a 7 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Bay Shore, beating seven rivals and covering the distance in a swift 1:20.67. He earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, which is higher than most of the horses being pointed to the Kentucky Derby.

"We'll see how he trains in the interim, but obviously the Withers is attractive from the standpoint he likes Aqueduct," Pletcher said. "It also will gradually stretch him out in distance."

Shaniko, coming off a poor performance in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, won a mile second-level allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths.

If Pletcher decides Forest Danger will be his Withers representative, he might point Value Plus and Shaniko to the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 22.

Mustanfar sets sights on Belmont Stakes

With Mustanfar unlikely to gain a berth in the Kentucky Derby because of his graded-earnings status, his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, is looking toward the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 5.

On April 10 at Keeneland, Mustanfar finished fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes and was beaten 10 1/4 lengths by The Cliff's Edge.

"I think we were fourth best in the best [Kentucky Derby] prep," McLaughlin said. "We think it is very doubtful that we will get into the Derby, but he'll stay at Keeneland until May 1. We'll look at the Belmont, because I think a mile and a quarter and up is his thing."

From seven starts, Mustanfar, a son of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, has two wins. Mustanfar finished second to Limehouse in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby last month.

Eye of the Tiger, trained by McLaughlin, might run next in the $750,000 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont on May 31. In his last race, Eye of the Tiger ran well to finish third in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on the Wood Memorial undercard,

A longshot at 26-1, Eye of the Tiger was making his first start for McLaughlin in the Grade 1 Carter, finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Pico Central.

"We were very happy with that race," McLaughlin said. "We have no set plans, but we'll look at the Met Mile."

McLaughlin said City Place, a 4-year-old maiden for whom McLaughlin had high hopes, has been retired because he broke his foot.

City Place, a son of Storm Cat out of Grade 1 winner Glitter Woman, was nearing his career debut when he injured himself in a work at Palm Meadows on Easter Sunday. City Place's last five works at Palm Meadows were bullets.

"He was cut out to be a real nice horse," McLaughlin said. "He's a grand-looking horse."

City Place, who is owned by his breeder, Joe Allen, will enter stud next year. McLaughlin said it's unknown where City Place will stand.

Grass race fails to draw enough entries

The rain stopped, the sun came out, and Aqueduct's grass course was lush. All of that still couldn't help the racing office fill a grass race for Sunday. The one grass race in the condition book failed to draw enough entries, which means the earliest turf racing can begin here is Wednesday.

The first grass race would have been run last Wednesday, but rain forced a switch to the main track. The first grass stakes of the year, the $100,000-added Fort Marcy Handicap, is scheduled for next Saturday.

Because of the delay in opening the course, the grass will be used sparingly at the spring meet, which ends May 2.

Possibility should be favored in two-turn debut

With no stakes scheduled Sunday, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares is the feature. The 1 1/8-mile race drew a field of five.

Possibility, the beaten favorite in her last start, is the likely favorite in her two-turn debut. Possibility makes her second start off a long layoff, and her trainer, Shug McGaughey, wins at a high percentage with horses who fall into the category.

Nevermore came from last in an 11-horse field to win a two-turn maiden race at Gulfstream Park in February. She has worked sharply since at Palm Meadows for trainer Jim Bond.

First start a success for Honor Point

Honor Point, a 3-year-old half-sister to graded stakes winner Puzzlement, won her career debut in Friday's third race. Honor Point, with Jose Santos aboard, won the six-furlong maiden race by 1 1/4 lengths over Slam the Dee's.

Honor Point ($7.10) is trained by Allen Jerkens and owned by Joseph V. Shields Jr.

* In his first work since winning the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap here April 3, Funny Cide covered a half-mile in 48.42 seconds over Belmont's main track Friday. Funny Cide is being pointed to the $500,000 Pimlico Special on May 14.

* Trainer John DeStefano was fined $3,000 for the post-race presence of mepenzolate, a gastrointestinal medicine, in Got My Geht, who finished third in the ninth race here Feb. 29.