Updated on 09/18/2011 1:16AM

Pletcher's big year could have bigger ending

Todd Pletcher broke his own money record and is closing in on the single-year stakes mark.

ELMONT, N.Y. - While naturally pleased that he was able to break his own record for earnings by a trainer in one year, Todd Pletcher has his sights set on bigger and what he views as more significant achievements.

With 11 weeks remaining in 2006, Pletcher has 91 stakes wins, one shy of his mentor D. Wayne Lukas's single-year record of 92, set in 1987. Of that total, 16 are Grade 1 stakes wins, putting him nine behind Bobby Frankel's record of 25 Grade 1 victories set in 2003.

"I just think those two records would be the hardest to either set or break," said Pletcher, whose 50 graded stakes wins this year are three behind Lukas's record 53. "To me, they're more significant in terms of value to the owners, value to the horses. Stakes races are essentially what creates value to any of these horses."

There are 24 Grade 1 stakes remaining in North America this year, the richest of which are the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races scheduled for Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Pletcher, 39, whose horses have earned $22,447,744 in purse money this year through Monday, will have one of the strongest contingents any trainer has ever brought to the event. Though he may not have a starter in the day's richest event, the $5 million Classic, Pletcher will have 12 to 15 starters in five of the seven other races.

That includes multiple-horse entries in the Distaff, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, and Filly and Mare Turf. He will also start English Channel, arguably North America's best hope, in the $3 million Turf.

English Channel, a dominant 4 1/2-length winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, was one of three horses Pletcher won Grade 1 races with at Belmont last Saturday. Fleet Indian established herself as the favorite for the $2 million Distaff with a gutty head win over Balletto in the Beldame, her eighth consecutive victory. She will be joined in the Distaff starting gate by Spun Sugar and Pool Land.

Honey Ryder came with a strong late run to beat Film Maker by a nose and take the Flower Bowl Invitational. She will only be Pletcher's second-best hope in the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf behind Wait a While.

"Obviously, we're holding a very live hand four weeks out," Pletcher said. "Historically, doing well on the prep days doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be successful on Breeders' Cup Day. I thought all the races were the kind that hopefully set you up well. English Channel had a big race. It didn't appear to be the kind of race that would take a lot out of you. I would think he could potentially move forward next time."

Magnificent Song, winner of the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont, could join Wait a While and Honey Ryder in the Filly and Mare Turf with a strong performance in Saturday's Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland. Wait a While, the 3-year-old filly who just beat her elders in the Yellow Ribbon, is the possible favorite in the 1 3/8-mile Filly and Mare Turf.

"Wait a While seems to have bounced out of her race real well," Pletcher said. "We got five weeks to the Breeders' Cup so we're in good shape that way. Honey Ryder, I think she's actually better going further than a mile and a quarter, so that works in her favor as well."

In winning the Beldame from off the pace, Fleet Indian demonstrated she doesn't need the lead to be successful. She also seems to prefer two turns, something she will get in the Distaff at Churchill Downs.

"Fleet Indian, we saw what we wanted to see in terms of being able to sit off the pace, get some dirt in her face, not have everything her own way, and still be able to win," Pletcher said.

Until last weekend, multiple Grade 1 winner Spun Sugar might have been considered Pletcher's best hope for the Distaff. But while Fleet Indian won her prep, Spun Sugar finished eighth, beaten only three lengths, in the Grade 1 Spinster on Sunday at Keeneland. Pletcher is banking on the fact that Spun Sugar may not have cared for Keeneland's new Polytrack and said it is likely owner Frank Stronach will put up the $180,000 supplemental fee to run Spun Sugar in the Distaff.

"Personally, I wouldn't hold that race against her," Pletcher said. "She rebounded from an average performance here in the Ogden Phipps with a big race in the Go for Wand. I'm chalking it up to Polytrack and we go from there."

Pletcher will also run Pool Land, the Ruffian winner, in the Distaff.

Pletcher already has multiple horses to run in the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, but could add more runners to the mix depending on what happens this weekend in the Champagne and Frizette - Grade 1 events for 2-year-old colts and fillies, respectively, at Belmont Park.

Pletcher will run Circular Quay, who finished second in the Breeders' Futurity, and Belmont Futurity winner King of the Roxy in the Juvenile. Scat Daddy, who won the Sanford and finished second to Circular Quay in the Hopeful at Saratoga, is running in the Champagne.

In the Juvenile Fillies, Pletcher plans to run Octave and Featherbed - who dead-heated for second in the Matron - as well as Cotton Blossom, who finished fourth in last weekend's Alcibiades. Awesome Ashley, a maiden winner in her second start, is running in Saturday's Frizette.

As far as the Classic goes, Pletcher said Lawyer Ron is possible. Pletcher just took over the training of the multiple-stakes-winning 3-year-old and put him through his first workout on Monday, a four-furlong move in 48.02 seconds.

Pletcher, who won two Breeders' Cup races in 2004, knows that the fact he could run potentially four favorites - Wait a While, Fleet Indian, English Channel, and Circular Quay - on Breeders' Cup Day doesn't guarantee success. In 2003, Bobby Frankel ran four Breeders' Cup favorites and all lost. In fact, Frankel went 0 for 8 on the day.

"Sure you want to do well, but I also know well enough that those are very, very tough days to win races," Pletcher said. "A couple of years ago at Santa Anita when Bobby had his record-breaking year, it looked like he was loaded for bear at the Breeders' Cup; it didn't unfold that way, so you can't take anything for granted. A lot of these horses have been running consistently well all year; it's hard to keep the momentum going."

In 2006, Pletcher has made it look easy.