07/24/2006 11:00PM

Scat Daddy set to give last laugh to Pletcher

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Reigning BC Mile champ Artie Schiller loosens up on the Oklahoma turf course on Tuesday. He's preparing to make his 2006 Saratoga debut in the Fourstardave on Aug. 6.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Todd Pletcher will be the center of attention even more than usual on Thursday at Saratoga. It's nothing he won't be able to handle with a sense of humor and a fast 2-year-old.

Though he doesn't often let the public see it, Pletcher has a good sense of humor, which will enable him to deal with the razzing he figures to get regarding the Pletcher bobblehead doll the New York Racing Association is giving away with each paid admission. The doll, which honors Pletcher for winning the past four Spa training titles, bears as much a resemblance to Don Adams, the actor who played the bungling detective Maxwell Smart, as it does Pletcher.

In Scat Daddy, Pletcher has the fast 2-year-old he'll need to win Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at six furlongs. Scat Daddy will meet only four rivals in the Sanford, which returns to the calendar after a one-year absence.

In his 5 1/4-length maiden win at Belmont Park on June 3, Scat Daddy, breaking from the rail, was gunned to the front by John Velazquez and dueled with Trip to the Bank, who had finished second to Pletcher's stakes winner Out of Gwedda at 4-5 a month earlier. The two ran side by side through a half-mile in 45.14 seconds before Scat Daddy pulled away.

"I don't think the horse wants to be rushed off his feet as much as he was," Pletcher said Tuesday from Belmont Park. "But first time out going 5 1/2 furlongs in the mud, you don't necessarily want to take back and get mud in their face. So I thought he ran very well running a style he's not best-suited to."

Pletcher owns 25 percent of Scat Daddy, who gets Lasix for the first time on Thursday and will break from post 4 under John Velazquez.

Kiaran McLaughlin entered Trip to the Bank in a maiden race on Wednesday, but when the Sanford came up light he decided to enter back in that race. McLaughlin isn't thrilled with the idea of facing Scat Daddy again, but the chance to get his colt graded stakes-placed is the trade-off.

Teuflesberg and Bagger Vance are also maidens. War Wolf, a son of Tale of the Cat, won a maiden race at Churchill on July 2.