08/21/2010 3:52PM

Rose Catherine seeks to remain perfect in turf sprints


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Part of the reason Todd Pletcher lost last year’s Saratoga trainer’s title to Linda Rice may have been that he didn’t have enough turf sprinters in his barn. In Rose Catherine, he has one of the best turf female sprinters in the country.

Monday, Rose Catherine will get to strut her stuff over Saratoga’s outer turf course in the $70,000 Bennington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs. Originally slated to be run Friday, the Bennington was not carded by the racing office until Monday.

Rose Catherine is 4 for 9 in her career, but she is 4 for 4 in turf sprints. She won a maiden race at Belmont last fall, the Sweet Life Stakes at Santa Anita in January, an allowance race at Monmouth in June and the Mongo Queen Stakes at Monmouth on July 31. Running back in 23 days is not typical of Pletcher, but he feels Rose Catherine will be up to the task.

“She’s obviously a gifted sprinter on the turf,” Pletcher said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities like that around. She’s been ready to go. She doesn’t require much in between races. Hopefully, we get lucky with the weather.”

Rain was in the forecast beginning Saturday night. Pletcher said Rose Catherine would not start if the race is run on dirt. She would possibly run on soft ground.

Spiteful Gypsy, second to Rose Catherine in the Mongo Queen, looms the major threat to Rose Catherine again if the race remains on turf.

Aegan might become the horse to beat on an off track. As a 2-year-old, she beat males in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs over a good track. She is coming off a second-level allowance win on fast dirt at Monmouth last out.

Vineyard Haven works for Forego

Vineyard Haven, the likely favorite for the Grade 1 Forego here on Sept. 4, worked six furlongs in 1:14.55 early Saturday morning.

Vineyard Haven was one of the first horses to work on a busy Saturday, coming out shortly after the track opened at 5:30 a.m. Under exercise rider Simon Harris, Vineyard Haven went in splits of 13.61 seconds, 26.62, 39.05, 51.04, and got his last quarter in 23.54 seconds over a fast, but dull main track.

“That’s how he’s been working,” said Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing. “Nothing fancy. Went off slow, finished up well. One-fourteen and change is about what I expected from him over the track. He’ll probably have one more work and we’ll go to the Forego.”

As a 2-year-old, Vineyard Haven won the Grade 1 Hopeful over this track. At 3, he finished first in the King’s Bishop, but was disqualified for interference. This year, he won the James Marvin Stakes on opening day over the main track.

Mettee said Godolphin could also start Girolamo in the Forego. Girolamo has not run since finishing 12th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. His connections were hopeful of running in an allowance race last week, but it did not fill. Girolamo is 2 for 2 over Saratoga’s main track and on Wednesday he worked a half-mile in 47.12 seconds, the fastest of 46 drills at the distance.

“I hate to run him back in a Grade 1 off a layoff, but eventually you just to got to run,” Mettee said. “His works up here have been really good. He gets over this track really well.”

Mettee said Gayego is a possible starter for the Presque Isle Breeders’ Cup Mile on Sept. 10.

Rachel gallops on main track

In between early morning workouts by Trappe Shot and Super Saver, reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra was out on the main track for a spirited gallop in which she tossed her head about consistently under exercise rider Joel Dominguez.

“I’m excited about her energy level,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. “I couldn’t be happier with how she’s training and her attitude I like how eager she is.”

Rachel Alexandra, who worked on the main track on Monday, will have one breeze this Monday in preparation for her start in the $300,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on Aug. 29.

◗ Pica Slew, who finished eighth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Test Stakes, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.87 seconds over the main track Saturday. Pica Slew is listed as a probable starter for next Saturday’s Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.