06/08/2007 12:00AM

Pletcher pair ready to ship for Foster


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The formidable Todd Pletcher duo of Master Command and Magna Graduate both were scheduled for final prerace workouts this weekend at Belmont Park as they point to the next major event on the national racing calendar, the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16 at Churchill Downs.

Master Command and Magna Graduate both enter in sensational form, having already accounted for five graded stakes this year between them. Master Command has been perfect in sweeping the Mineshaft, New Orleans, and National Jockey Club handicaps in his three starts, while Magna Graduate won the Razorback and Excelsior handicaps after being soundly defeated in his seasonal debut, the Donn Handicap.

Both 5-year-old horses were tentatively scheduled to ship Tuesday from New York to Kentucky, according to Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy.

Besides the Pletcher twosome, who will race uncoupled for wagering purposes, other known prospects for the $750,000 Foster include Einstein, Wanderin Boy, Diamond Stripes, and Wiggins. Possible starters, according to Churchill officials, include Jonesboro, Gouldings Green, Student Council, and Patriot Act.

Indian Vale to face Ermine

Pletcher also has a major contender in the second-richest of the six Foster Day stakes, the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap, in Indian Vale, the A.P. Indy mare who was the beaten favorite in the Louisville Breeders' Cup on the May 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard.

The top prospective rival for Indian Vale in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis is Ermine, winner of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 7 in her most recent start. Ermine tuned up for the Fleur de Lis by breezing five furlongs Friday in 1:00.60 over a fast Churchill main track.

The other Foster Day races, all Grade 3 events, are the $200,000 Northern Dancer, $200,000 Jefferson Cup, $200,000 Regret, and $150,000 Mint Julep. Among the more notable names being pointed for any of those is Chelokee, the likely favorite for the Northern Dancer.

Lemons Forever, the 4-year-old filly who is winless since she upset the 2006 Kentucky Oaks at 47-1, could run in either the Fleur de Lis or Mint Julep, said trainer Dallas Stewart.

Perfect Drift back to square one

Perfect Drift fared so poorly when finishing 10th and last in the Californian last weekend over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park that trainer Murray Johnson said he merely wants to get the gelding refocused and accustomed to being competitive again.

"We obviously won't be looking for a big race for now," said Johnson.

Perfect Drift, based at nearby Trackside, has lost 14 straight races since winning in the Washington Park Handicap in July 2005. With a career bankroll of more than $4.7 million, the 8-year-old gelding is the second-leading active earner in North America, trailing only Invasor.

Johnson said Perfect Drift did not appear to handle the synthetic footing very well in California.

"He just didn't give a good effort," he said. "The change of surface didn't work the way we thought it would."

Brass Hat should run at this meet

Another highly accomplished gelding, Brass Hat, is nearing his return. Trainer Buff Bradley said he expects Brass Hat to race before the spring meet ends July 8.

"I don't have anything picked out yet," said Bradley. "We've just got to get him back going again."

Brass Hat, a 6-year-old earner of more than $1.2 million, has had four timed workouts since May 20, most recently breezing five furlongs Thursday in 1:00.60 at Churchill.

Brass Hat is returning from a fractured sesamoid suffered last July. The injury did not require surgery.

Longshots can cut both ways

It was nearly a year ago that a 61-1 shot trained by Jac Tomasello won a maiden race on the Churchill turf. So when Broganville, a 70-1 shot, was up in the final jumps to win by a head in the sixth race Thursday, a maiden race on turf, just whom did he nail? Pallister Park, trained by Tomasello.

Broganville, ridden by veteran Charlie Woods Jr. and trained by Glen Mathieson, returned $143.40, becoming the longest-priced winner of the meet so far.

Tomasello, based at Turfway Park and Ohio, has not won at Churchill since Bankin on Candy pulled his huge upset last June 29.

* Julien Leparoux, the leading rider at Churchill, will be conspicuous by his absence on Foster Day, when he will ride instead at Colonial Downs. Leparoux has commitments in several Colonial races for his longtime mentor and main client, trainer Patrick Biancone.