08/01/2011 12:12PM

Saratoga: Ibboyee in shape for Morrissey run

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Tom Cooley
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out the closer Ibboyee (above) against the speedy Be Bullish.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After teaming up to win five races – including two graded stakes – through the first 10 days of the meet, trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole will go from friends to foes in Wednesday’s $75,000 John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga.

In the 6 1/2-furlong race for New York-breds, Pletcher will send out the closer Ibboyee against the speedy Be Bullish, whom Repole claimed for $75,000 in June and turned over to George Weaver, coincidentally a former Pletcher assistant.

“I need to claim some horses so I can prove that I just don’t win races with Todd Pletcher,” Repole said. “As competitive as Todd and I are, I’m sure he wants to beat me as much as I want to beat him. He’ll act like it doesn’t matter to him. I’d love to walk by him as I walk to the winner’s circle. Maybe I’ll high-five him.”

Repole has finished second the last two years in the Morrissey with Driven by Success, who was trained by Bruce Levine in 2009 and Pletcher in 2010.

“I told him probably no one’s ever finished second three consecutive years, so he’s got something to look forward to,” Pletcher said.

Ibboyee has not won since taking the New York Derby last July at Finger Lakes. In three starts this year, he finished fourth, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream; third, beaten a half-length in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs; and eighth, beaten 12 1/4 lengths in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.

Ibboyee has trained exceptionally well at Saratoga, putting in two solid breezes the last two weeks over the main track.

“Maybe seven [furlongs] would be slightly better than 6 1/2. He’ll need an honest pace up front,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he’s in good form, and I expect him to run his ‘A/ race.”

Be Bullish, who will break from post 6 under Javier Castellano, looks like the one to catch. Mineswept, who has the rail and Ramon Dominguez, could apply some pressure.

Be Bullish, a 6-year-old gelded son of Pure Prize, has finished first or second in 25 of 50 career starts. He is coming off an eye-catching victory in a $75,000 claiming race at Belmont where he dueled through a half-mile in 44.17 seconds, seemed done at the quarter pole, only to come back and win the race by two lengths.

“He’s just a really great horse,” Repole said. “The race I claimed him out of was a very pretty special race.”

Mr. Windjammer, Six Flings, Overextended, and Naughty New Yorker complete the field.