08/23/2013 4:33PM

Saratoga: Havana the latest flashy juvenile for Pletcher

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Tom Keyser
Havana, with John Velazquez riding, is a sharp debut winner Friday. He is now pointed for the Champagne.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher unleashed another good-looking 2-year-old Friday when Havana won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 2 3/4 lengths. His final time of 1:02.64 was just .13 of a second off the track record set by Factus Cactus in 2010.

"It didn't surprise us that he broke alertly and showed speed, and I was happy to see him put in the performance that he did," said Pletcher, who trains Havana for Michael Tabor, John Magnier, and Derrick Smith.

Havana is a son of Dunkirk who brought $575,000 at the Barrett's March 2-year-old in training sale. Following a series of good workouts, he was no secret, being sent off at 2-5. He did have to fend off a serious challenge from Kendall's Boy, who ran extremely well in his debut for trainer Tom Amoss.

"We thought we had a fast horse and we didn't want to give him such a hard race," said Havana's rider, John Velazquez, "but there was another horse in the race that obviously ran fast enough to be with him the first part of the race.

"I didn't want to abuse him down the lane," Velazquez said, "but I had to make sure he kept his mind on running. I had to spank him to make him run away from the other horse, and he did it well."

Pletcher said that he would point Havana to the Grade 1 Champagne on Oct. 5 at Belmont Park.

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