09/04/2010 11:16AM

Pletcher, Rice ship in for holiday stakes


High-profile trainers Todd Pletcher and Linda Rice will try to repeat past success when they ship in lightly raced 2-year-olds for a pair of six-furlong stakes for New York-breds on Monday’s holiday card at Finger Lakes.

Pletcher, who won last year’s Aspirant for 2-year-old colts and geldings with 8-5 favorite Ibboyee and the 1997 running with Mellow Roll, has a prime contender in Monday’s $128,000 Aspirant (race 8) with debut winner Hysterical Cat.

Rice, who shipped in Mother Russia to win the 2008 Lady Finger for 2-year-old fillies, has the uncoupled pair of first-out winners Higher Desire and Letshootpool in a six-horse field for the $139,000 Lady Finger.

The Aspirant came up the stronger race, with five of the nine runners showing a first-race Beyer Speed Figure in the narrow range of 73 to 80.

That group includes Hysterical Cat, who earned a 79 for his 3 1/2-length wire-to-wire score over maidens at Saratoga on Aug. 8. Pletcher shows an excellent 8-for-21 record with debut winners moving up to non-graded stakes the last five years, according to DRF’s Formulator.

The second best Beyer among the four winners in the field belongs to Bug Juice, who got a 76 for his 6 1/4-length score over seven rivals on Aug. 4. The last-place horse from that race, Innthewest, was the lone runner among five horses to race again to come back and win, but he earned a weak 44 Beyer at Finger Lakes.

Trainer Dominic Galluscio, who won the 2006 Aspirant with Endless Circle, has the coupled entry of Pin Number and Dream Drop Kid. Pin Number, who earned a 73 for his one-length score at Saratoga on Aug. 21, is a half-brother to Dr. V’s Magic, a three-time stakes winner who won last year’s Genesee Valley at Finger Lakes. Dream Drop Kid ran third in his career debut last Sunday at Saratoga.

Another maiden coming back on short rest, the Jimmy Jerkens-trained Luxury Appeal, owns the best Beyer in the field, an 80 for his runner-up finish last weekend. He finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Dream Drop Kid.

Rice has two prime contenders in the Lady Finger, but it’s difficult to compare Higher Desire and Letshootpool. Higher Desire defeated nine rivals winning a five-furlong dirt sprint, earning a 68 Beyer. The horses she beat are a combined 0 for 3 since then.

Letshootpool won a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, earning a 65 Beyer. The horses she beat are a collective 1 for 6 in their next starts, with the winner, fourth-place finisher Thunder Jewel, getting a 55 Beyer for winning a turf route.

The best Beyer in the field belongs to Funky Munky Mama, who steps up in class after crushing $50,000 maiden claimers in her second career start. She was awarded a 75 Beyer, a 31-point improvement from her debut.