10/22/2006 11:00PM

Pletcher pre-enters 18 in Breeders' Cup

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday that he pre-entered 18 horses for the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, to be held Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. He said he pre-entered three horses in five of the eight races and the only race in which he will not have a starter is the $2 million Mile.

D. Wayne Lukas holds the record for number of starters in one Breeders’ Cup, running 14 in 1987. Barring bad luck, Pletcher figures to break that record on Nov. 4. Of course, the record Pletcher would really covet is Richard Mandella’s four BC wins on one card, which occurred in 2003.

“Aside from just having a large number of participants, I think we’ve got several legitimate chances, so like always we’re cautiously optimistic,” Pletcher said Monday in his Belmont Park office. “We’ve got some horses that are doing really well and that are coming up to it in really good shape.”

The only surprise of Pletcher’s pre-entrants was Go Deputy, who was pre-entered in the $3 million Turf just a day after losing the Canadian International at Woodbine by a nose.

“It’s obviously going to be determined on how he trains, but there are not a whole lot of other opportunities with the exception of Japan or Hong Kong, and we decided not to do that, so basically it was either run here or get a rest,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher also has English Channel and Icy Atlantic pre-entered in the Turf.

Pletcher may have his strongest hand in the $2 million Distaff where he has pre-entered probable favorite Fleet Indian, Pool Land, and Spun Sugar. Owner Frank Stronach agreed to supplement Spun Sugar for a fee of $180,000 after Pletcher told him he was pleased with the filly’s workout on Sunday at Belmont. Pletcher worked 14 Breeders’ Cup horses at Belmont on Sunday.

“She worked well yesterday and came out of the work well,” Pletcher said. “We saw all we needed to see.”

Pletcher also pre-entered three horses in the Juvenile Fillies (Awesome Ashley, Cotton Blossom, and Octave), the Juvenile (Circular Quay, King of the Roxy, and Scat Daddy), and the Filly and Mare Turf (Honey Ryder, Quiet Royal, and Wait a While).

Pletcher pre-entered Lawyer Ron and Flower Alley in the $5 million Classic and Friendly Island in the $2 million Sprint.

Flower Alley finished second in last year’s Classic, but after winning the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile at Monmouth to begin his 4-year-old season, he ran poorly in the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga. Flower Alley has been training at Churchill Downs the last several weeks.

“The horse does seem like his energy level is better,” Pletcher said. “He trained really well at Churchill before the Kentucky Derby and he’s training well there now. If you forgive him for his last two races, he was second in this race last year.”

Pletcher said he did not pre-enter Featherbed in the Juvenile Fillies because she developed inflammation in her right foreleg following a workout at Belmont on Sunday.

Premium Tap nominated for $150K

The connections of Woodward winner Premium Tap have paid the $150,000 nomination fee to make their horse eligible for the Breeders’ Cup program. His first start in that program will come in the $5 million Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

On Sunday, Premium Tap worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.82 seconds over Belmont’s main track. Edgar Prado was aboard for the work and has committed to ride the horse in the Classic.

Trainer John Kimmel said in reviewing the field for the Classic that he feels there are many legitimate reasons to run.

“How many chances do you have to run for $5 million?” said Kimmel, who trains Premium Tap for George Kline, Peter Alevizos and David Whelihan. “Lava Man, numbers-wise, he’s not in the same ballpark and he’s not run well outside of California. Then you got Sun King, who has run good races and run big numbers but we’ve beaten him twice. Invasor, he’s another one that’s run the big numbers, but he hasn’t run since the Whitney. Bernardini, he’s run big numbers but nobody’s looked him in the eye. You can’t dodge just one horse.

“I honestly think the horse deserves a chance,” Kimmel added. “I don’t think distance is a limitation for him. The horse is doing extremely well.”

Premium Tap is coming off a troubled fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Cup Classic where he clipped heels and stumbled at the three-eighths pole. He was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths.

Gomez: I shall return

Garrett Gomez will winter in Southern California, but he certainly plans on returning to New York next spring. And why not? In the six months he spent in New York, Gomez won 113 races and his horses earned more than $6.7 million in purses.

Along the way, he picked up such high-profile mounts as Circular Quay, Wait a While, and Discreet Cat.

Gomez initially came East to ride first call for Pletcher following an injury to John Velazquez in April. Though Velazquez returned earlier than expected, Gomez remained in New York. He had a fabulous Saratoga meet, winning 42 races, including six graded stakes. He won 29 races at the Belmont fall meet.

Gomez said he is in the process of buying a house in New York.

“The plan is to try and get back here for the spring and summer,” Gomez said Saturday, when he won three New York-bred stakes. “It’s been very exciting. The people welcomed me with wide-open arms. They gave me a lot of good horses to ride and I’ve had a tremendous time, and I’m excited about doing it again next year.”

Gomez is the leading rider in the country in terms of purse money won with $17,591,998.

Showcase horses move on

Gold and Roses and Sharp Humor, the one-two finishers in Saturdays’ $125,000 Hudson Handicap, are likely to make their next start in open company stakes, their connections said.

Gold and Roses, who beat Sharp Humor by a neck, will be pointed to the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving Day, trainer Tom Bush said. Gold and Roses earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory.

Immediately following the Hudson, trainer Dale Romans said that provided Sharp Humor comes out of the race in good order, he will be pointed to the Grade 1, $300,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 25, when he would face Discreet Cat.

Richard Schosberg, the trainer of Mohawk winner Certifiably Crazy, said his horse will not run again this year, but will return next year at age 7. In past years, Schosberg has run Certifiably Crazy in open company stakes such as the Red Smith.

“It was a tough race on him, probably as tough a dogfight as he’s been in,” Schosberg said. “That’s it for the season. We’ll let him down a little bit here and then ship him down to Ocala.”

Bush said he was unsure if Ticonderoga winner Finlandia would run again this year, but if she did it would most likely be out of town. Bush said Finlandia would run again next year.

Plans for Empire Classic winner Organizer were unclear. The next stakes race restricted to New York- breds is the $65,000 Alex M. Robb on Dec. 31 over Aqueduct inner track.

Trainer Barclay Tagg said Funny Cide, who was beaten 1 1/2 lengths while finishing fourth in the Empire Classic, may try the grass next winter at Gulfstream.

* Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin worked both of his Breeders’ Cup contenders Sunday over Belmont’s training track. Invasor went six furlongs in 1:14.83, Henny Hughes covered four furlongs in 50.63 seconds.

* McLaughlin’s Belmont Stakes winner Jazil breezed three furlongs in 39.02 seconds over the training track, his first breeze since returning from a bruised hind cannon bone injury. Jazil is being pointed to the Dubai World Cup on March 31, with a possible start in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park before that.