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Pletcher makes quick amends
ELMONT, N.Y. - There's nothing like four straight winners to take a trainer's mind off finishing last in the Belmont Stakes.
Todd Pletcher won the first four races on Sunday's Belmont Park card, less than 24 hours after saddling Purge to a last-place finish in Saturday's Belmont. Pletcher also had a second- and a third-place finish from six starters Sunday. Jockey John Velazquez was aboard all six Pletcher runners.
The most impressive of Pletcher's four winners was his first. Friendly Island, a 3-year-old New York-bred son of Crafty Friend, won his debut by 17 1/4 lengths after running six furlongs in an eye-popping 1:08.48. Factoring in a lightning-quick surface, Friendly Island received a Beyer Speed Figure of 98.
"We expected him to run well, thought he was the kind of horse that could win first time out," Pletcher said. "We did not expect him to win by 17 1/4 lengths and run six furlongs in 1:08-and-two. I did think the track was fast, but 1:08-and-two under wraps was fast on any surface."
Pletcher said Friendly Island did not make it to the races before Sunday because of nagging shin problems. While Pletcher is planning to run the more seasoned West Virginia in the Mike Lee Handicap on June 26, he said he would nominate Friendly Island to that race as well.
Pletcher won Sunday's second with Dylan's Destiny, who was dropping to the $18,000 claiming ranks and was claimed. Pletcher took the third, a maiden race for juvenile colts, with debut runner June the Tiger ($7.10), who won by 6 1/2 lengths while covering five furlongs in 57.12. Save the Profit ($9.10) won a maiden turf race by 5 1/4 lengths.
Pletcher's streak was ended in the fifth, when Sum Marval couldn't overcome a slow start and had to settle for third. Pletcher looked like he'd get his fifth win in the seventh, but Hermione's Magic, returning for a 6 1/2-month layoff, got caught late by The Name Was Gone. None of Pletcher's winners was favored; both of his losers were.
The wins helped take the sting out of Purge's disappointing showing in Saturday's Belmont. After setting the pace early, Purge folded and was eventually wrapped up by Velazquez.
Pletcher said Purge, who won the Peter Pan Stakes two weeks ago, was stirred up in the paddock and post parade, "which kind of defeated the purpose of what we were trying to do, which was to get him to relax," he said.
Purge came out of the race fine, Pletcher said, and will be pointed to either the Haskell at Monmouth or Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Both races will be run Aug. 8.
Eddington may try softer
Trainer Mark Hennig said Eddington appeared to have come out of his fourth-place finish in Saturday's Belmont Stakes without incident, and said Eddington may try an allowance race before heading back into stakes action.
"Everything seems fine," Hennig said. "They got caught up in that second half-mile, and it probably took its toll on them and obviously Smarty Jones at the same time. We'll see how he comes out of the race and figure it out from there."
Meanwhile, Hennig said he is strongly considering stretching Gygistar out around two turns in the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs on June 19.
Dynever tops Brooklyn
The field for Saturday's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont is expected to include Dynever, Seattle Fitz, Congrats, Newfoundland, and possibly Gander and Midway Road. Midway Road may run Saturday in the $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs instead. If Midway Road goes in the Foster, Gander's chances of running in the Brooklyn increase.
Congrats worked five furlongs in 1:00.84 Monday at Belmont, and Seattle Fitz worked a half-mile in 50.48. On Sunday, Dynever worked a half-mile in 48.42.
John Velazquez will ride Newfoundland for Todd Pletcher. Javier Castellano will ride Congrats, and Richard Migliore will ride Seattle Fitz.
Millennium Dragon to cut back
Although Millennium Dragon's attempt at stretching out to 1 1/4 miles in Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan was a success, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Millenium Dragon will cut back to a mile in his next start.
The two races McLaughlin is considering are the $250,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs on July 3 and the $100,000-added Poker Handicap at Belmont on July 10.
Millennium Dragon finished second in the Manhattan, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Meteor Storm in the grass race. Millennium Dragon raced farther off the pace in the Manhattan than he usually does. McLaughlin said Migliore told him Millennium Dragon had been relaxing so well in his recent races, he wanted to let Millennium Dragon place himself where he was comfortable.
"In the paddock, I told [Migliore], 'I'm going to leave it to you,'" McLaughlin said. "He rode a great race, and I was pleasantly surprised to see him off the pace."
McLaughlin said Millennium Dragon's newfound ability to rate should help him in his future races.
"We'll go back to a mile and later a mile and an eighth with him and get a faster pace, which he can quicken off of," McLaughlin said.
Master David will try turf
Before deciding Belmont week to run Master David in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Bobby Frankel had talked about running Master David on the turf. And after finishing seventh in the Belmont, Master David appears to be headed to the turf for his next start.
Frankel said he is considering running Master David in an allowance race on the turf before trying him in the $500,000 Virginia Derby at 1 1/4 miles on the grass at Colonial Downs on July 10. Frankel said he would train Master David in blinkers and perhaps use them in his next start.
"Blinkers might make him a better racehorse, although I might not want to use them for a mile and a quarter race," Frankel said. "I'll see how he trains in them."
Frankel said he had no regrets about running Master David in the Belmont. "As long as he's fine, it's okay," Frankel said. "He didn't run hard enough to hurt himself."
On Monday, Frankel worked Sightseek, who will run next in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont on June 19. She worked five furlongs in 1:00.64.
* Sinister G worked a leisurely half-mile in 52.13 seconds on Monday at Belmont. He is expected to run in Saturday's Ohio Derby.
* Migliore was suspended by the stewards for three days, beginning Wednesday, for careless riding in the third race Saturday.
* Edgar Prado, who won the Belmont Stakes aboard Birdstone, began serving a seven-day suspension Sunday for careless riding in the fourth race May 30.
* Victor Fernandez was suspended three racing days beginning Thursday for careless riding during the running of the first race Saturday.
- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson