02/07/2006 12:00AM

Pletcher saddles pair of hot horses

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - As has so often been the case at Gulfstream Park this winter, trainer Todd Pletcher will be the center of attention on Thursday's card when he sends out the red-hot Terrific Storm as the likely favorite in the featured eighth race and the undefeated 3-year-old Half Ours in a second-level allowance earlier on the program.

was turned over to Pletcher for the 2005 campaign. After beginning the year with a couple of ordinary efforts on dirt, he switched over to grass, where he has won his last two starts, including a 1 3/4-length second-level allowance victory here on Jan. 8. He will step up another level for Thursday's 1 1/8-mile allowance on turf but Pletcher is confident his horse can handle the jump.

"This is a very competitive field, tougher than most three-other-thans. but he didn't really struggle to win his last race here and I believe he ran well enough to get it done again," said Pletcher.

Terrific Storm's competition will include Settle Up, who finished third behind Silver Tree in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder to end his 2005 season. A son of Kris S., Settle Up opened the new year by finishing a troubled fifth under similar third-level allowance conditions.

The pace scenario could favor , who appears to be the main speed in the field. A 4-year-old son of Pine Bluff, Tinseltown won the restricted Home of the Free Stakes in his grass debut last fall at Belmont Park. He has not started since finishing a wide-running fifth after dropping uncharacteristically near the rear of the pack in the Pete Axthelm Stakes at Calder on Dec. 31.

Half Ours easily captured his only two previous starts, winning his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths at Keeneland last April and the five-furlong Juvenile Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths on the Kentucky Derby undercard. But his 2-year-old season came to a premature end after he sustained a condylar fracture in his right hind leg during a work before the Grade 3 Flash Stakes at Belmont Park.

"So far he's been very impressive, and even though he hasn't won beyond five furlongs he's a very good moving, efficient horse who I think will stretch out," said Pletcher.

will face five rivals in the 6 1/2-furlong race, including Beacon Shine, who has not started since winning the Flash on June 10. Presently trained by Nick Zito, Beacon Shine suffered his only defeat in three tries when third behind Half Ours following a slow start in the Juvenile last spring at Churchill Downs.