04/02/2006 11:00PM

Pletcher horses head out


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher spent one last busy morning in south Florida on Sunday before shipping himself and the majority of his stable off to Kentucky in time for the opening of the Keeneland meeting on Friday.

Among Pletcher's long list of Sunday morning workers were two of his four Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Bluegrass Cat and My Golden Song, both of whom drilled five furlongs over the fast track. Bluegrass Cat earned a bullet by covering the distance in 59 seconds, while My Golden Song was timed in 1:01.80.

Bluegrass Cat is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and is headed for the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 15.

Bluegrass Cat, who had won the Sam Davis at Tampa, lost a shoe around the second turn of the Tampa Bay Derby, Pletcher said.

"And I don't think he liked the track, which was a lot dryer and cuppier for the Tampa Derby than it was four weeks earlier when he won the Sam Davis," said Pletcher. "I also think he's the type of horse who'll really appreciate the extra distance, going from a mile and one-eighth to a mile and one-quarter for the Derby. That should really help him."

My Golden Song finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth and will have his final Derby prep this weekend in the Illinois Derby.

Pletcher also reflected on having five weeks to prepare Sunriver, a wide-running third in Saturday's Florida Derby, for the Kentucky Derby.

"Statistically, that kind of time frame works well for our barn, so I don't see why it wouldn't work for the Derby too," said Pletcher. "I think the five-week spread before the Derby is one of those things that is overrated because, statistically, not a lot of horses have tried it up until the Florida Derby was moved last year.

"The Kentucky Derby is a very hard race to win no matter what you do. There are so many scenarios involved, and sometimes the best horses just don't have the right running style for this particular race."

With Pletcher and many of his Northern-based colleagues leaving Florida this week, filling entries figures to be a chore for racing secretary Dave Bailey and his staff during the final three weeks of the meet. Monday and Wednesday's programs were cases in point with the two nine-race cards consisting of four dirt and five turf races.

Wednesday's main event is a third-level optional claiming race on the grass, which drew a field of only six horses, topped by .