03/11/2008 11:00PM

Rags to Riches begins with easy breeze


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Rags to Riches, the Belmont Stakes winner and 3-year-old filly champion in 2007, had her first recorded workout since returning to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn at Palm Beach Downs earlier this winter when she breezed three furlongs in 38.40 seconds at the training center on Tuesday.

Rags to Riches had been sidelined with a hairline fracture of her right front pastern sustained during her second-place finish to Lear's Princess in the Gazelle Stakes in her last start as a 3-year-old.

"She went nice and easy and did it well," said Pletcher. "Right now we have no specific plans for her at this time. We'll let her get into a routine first."

Pletcher said Rags to Riches would remain at Palm Beach Downs until April 1, when she will ship to Keeneland to continue training.

"She trained and prepared for the Kentucky Oaks at Keeneland last year and seemed to do well there," Pletcher said.

Pletcher also decided to call an audible with his recently acquired 3-year-old Face the Cat, who was purchased privately by owner Satish Satan after opening his campaign with a pair of victories at Gulfstream Park.

Pletcher had originally intended to send Face the Cat to Oaklawn for Saturday's Rebel Stakes but is now planning on running him in the $1omillion Florida Derby on Marcho29.

"He missed one breeze due to a sore gluteal muscle, and although he worked well last weekend I just felt it made more sense to wait and run him in the Florida Derby, since he's already 2 for 2 over this track," Pletcher explained.

Pletcher said he's also considering the Florida Derby as a possible option for Why Tonto, who upset stablemate Cowboy Cal in the Feb. 16 Hallandale Beach Stakes on the turf.

Barrier Reef has minor ailment

Barrier Reef is another top 3-year-old who will miss a scheduled stakes opportunity this weekend due to a minor setback. Barrier Reef, winner of Aqueduct's Whirlaway Stakes in his last start, was scheduled to take on juvenile champion War Pass in Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby but will not make the trip from Payson Park, where he has been stabled since his arrival last month from New York.

"He grabbed himself coming off the track in the mud the other day," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, on Wednesday. "It wasn't anything serious but enough to mess us up for this race. He went back to the track for the first time this morning, and Saeed is leaning towards bringing him back opening day at Keeneland on the turf in the Transylvania Stakes. The Florida Derby was also a consideration, but he felt it was a pretty tough race to go in considering his experience."

The Whirlaway was Barrier's Reef's second victory in four career starts.

Tagg filly wins debut impressively

Song of Love, a half-sister to Gradeo1 winner Nobiz Like Shobiz by Changeintheweather, turned in a very professional performance winning her career debut for trainer Barclay Tagg here Wednesday.

Song of Love overcame a slow start before ultimately overtaking the pacesetting Happy Point to win a seven- furlong maiden special weight race for 3-year-old fillies. Song of Love is owned by Elizabeth Valando, who also owns Nobiz Like Shobiz.

"She did everything like a seasoned pro," Tagg said after watching the replay of Song of Love's win. "She broke a half-step slow, but after that she really did her job well. We really took a lot of time and worked a lot with her, including plenty of schooling at the gate and the paddock to have her ready for today."

Tagg said Song of Love is quite the opposite of her older brother when it comes to demeanor.

"He's very laid-back, while she's a bit more hyper," said Tagg. "I'll probably look to stretch her out a little bit for her next start. From the looks of things I don't think she'll have any problem handling it."

Earlier in the day, Tagg's Florida Derby hopeful Elysium Fields worked five furlongs in 59 seconds under exercise rider Kristen Troxell.

Apprentice wins with first mount

Jockey Victor Santiago pulled off a racing rarity when he won with the first mount of his career, Austin Laviva Baby, in Wednesday's fourth race.

Santiago, 22, graduated from the jockey school in his native Puerto Rico last year and has been exercising horses in the United States for the last eight months.

"This feel awesome," said Santiago, before enduring the dousing ritual from his fellow riders after winning his first race.

Austin Laviva Baby is trained by former jockey Wesley Ward and paid $5.40.