12/23/2006 1:00AM

Pletcher's ban begins


Trainer Todd Pletcher will begin serving his 45-day suspension on Wednesday, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board ruled at its monthly meeting last Thursday.

The starting point of the suspension comes 10 days later than Pletcher had been told to begin serving the days by his attorneys. Wednesday is the first day of racing in New York since Dec. 17.

However, Pletcher horses that have been racing at Calder in south Florida have been running in his assistant Anthony Sciametta's name since Dec. 18. Pletcher also has horses in Southern California but has not run anything in that state since Dec. 16. He does not have any horses entered for Tuesday's opening day card at Santa Anita.

Pletcher was suspended after his horse, Tales of Glory, tested positive for mepivicaine, which is used as a nerve-block, after winning the third race at Saratoga on Aug. 14, 2004. Subsequent appeals by Pletcher were denied. Though Pletcher has agreed to serve his days, he and his attorneys are also planning to take their case to the federal level in hopes of clearing Pletcher's name.

Pletcher has previously stated that does not believe the penalty is warranted based on the fact only 1.6 nanograms of the drug were found to be present. He agreed to take the days at this time for fear of having to do them in the spring and summer.

Pletcher, the two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer who this year has set single-year records for purse money won ($27.6 million) and graded stakes victories (57), will be unable to attend a racetrack or race-track owned training facility until Feb. 10.