07/18/2004 11:00PM

Pletcher to stewards: Be consistent


ELMONT, N.Y. - Todd Pletcher didn't want to waste two days stewing over the controversial disqualification of Icy Atlantic from first-place in Sunday's Grade 3, $111,100 Lexington Stakes. So shortly after the stewards made their ruling to disqualify Icy Atlantic from first and put him second behind Mustanfar, Pletcher visited the stewards' stand to discuss the incident.

Although Pletcher and the three stewards agreed to disagree on the call, Pletcher does object to one of the standards by which the stewards appeared to make their calls.

"I think they look too closely at the margin of victory or defeat, and by projecting what might have happened had the bumping not taken place, because it's a close finish they're deciding to change the order,'' Pletcher said.

Icy Atlantic finished a nose in front of Mustanfar in the Lexington. Mustanfar and Icy Atlantic exchanged bumps in the stretch, with Mustanfar coming in and Icy Atlantic coming out.

Pletcher says he believes a more "severe infraction" occurred in the Flash Stakes on June 4, when Primal Storm came in on Winning Expression early in the race. Edgar Prado, the rider of Winning Expression, lodged an objection that the stewards denied. Pletcher, who does not train either horse, says he believes the stewards did not change the order of finish because Primal Storm won by seven lengths.

"Either there's an infraction that takes place or there's not, and the margin of victory shouldn't have anything to do with it, in my opinion," Pletcher said. "They can only judge what they see, not what might have happened had that not taken place. You can't judge what you don't see."

Overall, Pletcher said he would just like to see more consistency from the stewards' rulings.

"You can say it in every sport. I think everybody wants consistency," Pletcher said. "If you're going to call it tight, then call it tight every single time and you know it's going to be called tight. When it's one time tight and one time loose, then it becomes a little hard to figure it out."

Though Pletcher may have lost out on a victory in the Lexington Stakes, he is still about to put the finishing touches on his third consecutive Belmont spring-summer title. He has 31 wins, 11 more than Bill Mott or Richard Dutrow Jr. Pletcher is unlikely to challenge the Belmont spring-summer meet record of 40 wins he set last year.

Stellar Jayne-Ashado, round three

If Pletcher could only win one more race this meet, it would be Saturday's Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, in which he will send Ashado. Ashado, the Kentucky Oaks winner, finished second in the Mother Goose Stakes last month behind Stellar Jayne. Stellar Jayne was beaten 10 lengths by Ashado in the Kentucky Oaks.

Stellar Jayne tuned up for Saturday's Coaching Club on Monday at Churchill Downs by working five furlongs, according to Larry Kelly, assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, though no time was available. Stellar Jayne was scheduled to ship to New York on Wednesday.

"She's done great since her race," Kelly said. "She's ready to roll."

Last Saturday, Ashado breezed six furlongs in 1:13.01 at Belmont.

Dynaville, Magical Illusion, and Honor Point are the other expected starters.

Kelly leaving as Lukas assistant

Speaking of Kelly, he will be leaving his post as Lukas's Kentucky and Florida assistant as of Wednesday. Kelly said he and Lukas reached a mutual agreement on the split and that he would be exploring other options.

Kelly has worked for Lukas since the spring of 2003 and also trained on his own for 25 years and worked as an assistant to his father, Hall of Fame trainer T.J. Kelly.

"It had nothing to do with our rapport," Kelly said. "I just want to explore some other avenues."

Before joining Lukas, Kelly worked with such horses as Topsider, Plugged Nickle, Misty Gallore, and Crypto Star. Upon leaving training in 2000, Kelly worked as a jockey's agent.

Eddington has public workout

When the predicted rains didn't come fast or hard enough to transfer Sunday's Lexington Stakes from the turf to the dirt, that left Eddington - who was entered for the main track only for the Lexington - all dressed up with no place to run.

Thus, trainer Mark Hennig received permission to work Eddington between races Sunday afternoon, and Eddington worked six furlongs in 1:13.12 under exercise rider Pablo Fragoso. Eddington, who has not run since his fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 5, is being pointed toward either the Jim Dandy at Saratoga or Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. Both races are Aug. 8.

Hennig said he decided to work Eddington in the afternoon because he had already been given a Lasix shot and because the threat of rain could have made for a sloppy track Monday morning.

Hennig said he was pleased with how relaxed Eddington appeared during his first afternoon appearance since the Belmont.

"I didn't want his first time back out there since the Belmont in the afternoon to be a bad experience," Hennig said. "I wanted to make sure he stayed relaxed."

Meanwhile, Hennig said that Gygistar, fourth in the Massachusetts Handicap last time out, is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap Aug. 7. Gygistar is 2 for 3 at Saratoga, including a victory in the Grade 1 King's Bishop as a 3-year-old.

"I know it's a tough spot, but he likes Saratoga and he's doing well," Hennig said. "We'll go with that plan right now."

On Saturday, Gygistar worked four furlongs in 47.21 seconds at Belmont Park.

Purge headed to Jim Dandy

The fields for the Jim Dandy and Haskell are weeks away of being firmed up, but one thing is certain: Peter Pan Stakes winner Purge will make his next start in the $500,000 Jim Dandy.

Pletcher says he believes that Purge would be better suited to running at Saratoga, where he is stabled, rather than shipping to Monmouth Park. Purge acted up in the paddock before finishing last in the Belmont Stakes.

"He kind of got shook up in the paddock on Belmont Day," Pletcher said. "I'd rather have him where I can school him every day and not have to ship."

Meanwhile, Pletcher said Pollard's Vision came out of his victory in Sunday's Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park in good order and is possible for either the Haskell or West Virginia Derby on Aug. 7.