10/29/2007 12:00AM

Pletcher sending invaders out West

EmailTodd Pletcher did so well with his initial foray into California last winter that he is increasing his presence this year. The three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said Sunday at Monmouth Park that he would have 40 horses based at Hollywood Park during the winter, beginning with a group of horses that was sent West on Monday.

Included in that first shipment was Sham Stakes winner Ravel, who recently won an allowance race at Keeneland in his first start since being injured in the spring. Also on board was Circular Quay, the Louisiana Derby winner, who, Pletcher said, "just went back into training" after getting time off following the Triple Crown.

Ravel and Circular Quay were based at Hollywood Park last winter, as was Rags to Riches, who went on to win the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Oaks.

Pletcher said he was planning on running several horses in the turf festival at Hollywood Park next month, including Wait a While in the Matriarch Stakes, Twilight Meteor in the Hollywood Derby, and The Leopard in the Generous Stakes.

Assistant trainer Michael McCarthy will again oversee the Pletcher operation at Hollywood Park.

Joy's Comet probably turf-bound

Several days of pondering the future of Joy's Comet ended on Sunday morning when he worked six furlongs on turf in 1:14.60 at Santa Anita. After the work, trainer Ted H. West said Joy's Comet will probably make his stakes debut in Saturday's $175,000 California Cup Mile on the turf instead of the $250,000 Classic over 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

"He seemed like he loved it out there," West said. "I'm leaning toward the Mile now. We wanted to work on the turf to give us more information on which race to go."

West and owner Jeffrey Sengara bought Joy's Comet privately over the summer. A 4-year-old gelding, Joy's Comet was not considered a California Cup-caliber horse a few months ago. He made his first four starts of the year in Northern California, winning a starter allowance and a starter handicap.

But the gritty style of those performances caught the eye of Sengara and West. They negotiated a private purchase from Ellen Jackson, who bred, owned, and trained the gelding. West declined to reveal the price.

"We didn't pay a lot," he said.

Sengara picked out Joy's Comet and approached Jackson to buy him, West said.

"He looked at some of the tapes and it was a horse that was improving," West said. "I liked the way he ran. He was game. He wanted to win."

In three starts for Sengara, Joy's Comet has earned $56,420, won an optional claimer for statebreds at Fairplex Park on Sept. 16, and was a game second in an allowance race in open company here on Sept. 29.

"I think his best is yet to come if his training is any indication," West said. "The way he came out of his last race and the way he's trained since, I'm never seen him this good in the morning like he's been. He's on his 'A' game."

Sengara and West have campaigned such important horses as Budroyale and Bluesthestandard, but they have not had a prominent horse in recent seasons.

West has not ruled out starting Joy's Comet in the Classic, but he would have to face Lava Man. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Lava Man won the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this year, but finished sixth in his last two starts - the Pacific Classic and Oak Tree Mile - against some of the toughest horses on the circuit.

Other probable starters for the Classic are Add Heat, Celtic Dreamin, Cheroot, My Man Murf, and possibly Rush with Thunder.

In the California Cup Mile, Joy's Comet would face a solid core of statebred turf milers, including defending champion Epic Power and Jack's Wild, the winner of two stakes this year.

"We want to pick the easier spot," West said.

Dixie Chatter to CashCall Futurity?

Dixie Chatter, scratched from Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile because of an elevated temperature was scheduled to return to California on Monday, and may start in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella said that Dixie Chatter's temperature had returned to normal at Monmouth Park over the weekend.

"Now we have to ship home and we have to hope he doesn't get sick," he said.

Owned by breeder Herman Sarkowsky, Dixie Chatter has won 2 of 4 starts and $191,400, including the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Sept. 30.

The CashCall Futurity was formerly known as the Hollywood Futurity.

Medici Code's winnings redistributed

The Santa Anita stewards ordered more than $107,000 in purses earned by Medici Code in two stakes at Del Mar this summer to be redistributed. Medici Code was found to have an excessive amount of clenbuterol in post-race urine tests after finishing second a division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 18 and winning the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap Aug. 11, according to rulings released by Santa Anita stewards.

The stewards ordered that owners Bill and Donna Herrick, trainer Darrell Vienna, and jockeys Martin Pedroza (who rode Medici Code in the Oceanside Stakes) and David Flores (La Jolla Handicap) return a total of $107,260 in purse money from the two races.

Medici Code earned $90,000 for winning the La Jolla. The stewards ordered the prize money redistributed to the original second- through sixth-place finishers - Worldly, Latin Rhythms, Ten a Penny, Karazi, and Vauquelin.

Medici Code earned $17,260 for finishing second in a division of the Oceanside. The money will be redistributed to the original third- through sixth-place finishers - Tycoon Doby, Frank the Barber, T'Aint War Sir, and Law Breaker.

Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator used to aid horses with breathing problems. It is allowed to appear in post-race tests at minute levels.

* Jockey Isaias Enriquez took off his lone mount on Sunday, citing the lingering effects of soreness from a spill in Saturday's first race. Enriquez was thrown heavily when the 3-year-old gelding Sea of Faces broke down in the stretch of a six-furlong starter allowance. Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds and trained by Art Sherman, Sea of Faces was euthanized.

* Trainer Nick Hines has accepted a position as a racing manager for Michael Moreno's Southern Equine Racing Stable, effective Thursday, Hines said over the weekend. Hines, 37, had his final starter as a trainer on Sunday - Summer Sunday, who finished eighth in the 10th race for maiden claimers.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen