10/05/2006 11:00PM

Pletcher nears earnings record

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Trainer Todd Pletcher inched closer to breaking his own record for annual stable earnings when his five starters on the Friday programs at Keeneland and Belmont Park earned $35,018, bringing him to within $68,138 of the mark he established last year.

None of the Pletcher horses at Belmont and Keeneland won, although Cotton Blossom earned $20,000 by finishing fourth in the Alcibiades. Pletcher still had runners scheduled to run in three races Friday night at the Meadowlands - including three starters in the $250,000 Pegasus Stakes - so he still stood a chance to break the record Friday.

Through Friday afternoon, Pletcher's 2006 total stood at $20,799,704; his record total for last year was $20,867,842. With major contenders in numerous big-money races Saturday afternoon, Pletcher, the 39-year-old Dallas native who is well on his way to a third straight Eclipse Award for top trainer in North America, figured to secure the new record by nightfall.