07/16/2007 12:00AM

Rags to Riches out of CCA Oaks

Email

Rags to Riches will not run Saturday in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks after developing a fever, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday.

The first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 102 years, Rags to Riches showed symptoms on Sunday, forcing Pletcher to postpone a scheduled workout. Pletcher waited until Monday, hoping the temperature would return to normal. When it didn't, the Coaching Club American Oaks was ruled out.

Pletcher said Rags to Riches had a temperature of 101 on Sunday morning, and it remained in that range Monday.

She did jog Sunday and galloped on Monday.

"She had a temperature of 101 on Sunday, which isn't that high, but she's usually at 100.2 to 100.5, and she seemed a little under the weather, not quite herself," Pletcher said. "So we thought about it overnight. I needed to work her this morning if we were going to run, but I just didn't feel like she was quite up to it. I figured there are too many important races down the road to compromise her chances here."

The defection was a blow to the New York Racing Association, which hoped the lure of the Belmont Stakes-winning filly would pull a large crowd to the final weekend at Belmont Park before the action shifts north to Saratoga.

The decision also hurts ESPN, which had shifted its weekend racing production from Del Mar to Belmont to cover the first start by Rags to Riches since her historic victory over the colts in the June 9 Belmont.

"We've all been in this business long enough to know you can't make too many plans around running horses," Pletcher said. "I do feel badly. I know Belmont promoted the race. I was looking forward to running her, and I'm sure a lot of people were looking forward to seeing her run."

Rags to Riches, the dominant figure in the 3-year-old filly division, would have been an overwhelming favorite in the CCA Oaks. In addition to the Belmont, she also captured the Kentucky Oaks and the Santa Anita Oaks this season.

In the revised game plan, Pletcher will now train Rags to Riches up to the Grade 1 Alabama against the fillies at Saratoga on Aug. 18, a 10-week gap between races.

"She's run very well fresh before," Pletcher said. "She had eight weeks between the Santa Anita Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks, so I'm not concerned about the layoff."

The setback ends speculation Rags to Riches would take another run at males one week later in the centerpiece of the meet, the $1 million Travers.

Pletcher said that if everything goes smoothly this week Rags to Riches would work on Sunday at Belmont and ship to Saratoga on Tuesday.

As for the CCA Oaks, Pletcher said he would "look closely" at putting another horse in the race. The leading contender would be Octave, recent winner of the Mother Goose at Belmont.

Chilean filly will rate in stakes

Like Rags to Riches, the filly Eres Magica beat colts in a major 3-year-old stakes.

It happened at end of last season in the Group 1 Chilean Derby. Eres Magica, now trained by Michael Matz, looks for her first victory in three U.S. starts Wednesday at Belmont in the $75,000 Drum Tap Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

Matz plans to change tactics for this race, reserving her off the pace.

"The agent spoke to the trainer who had her in South America who told us she needs to be taken right back at the start," Matz said. "We're hoping that will make a difference."

- additional reporting by David Grening