05/19/2006 11:00PM

Sir Barton: Pletcher goes one-two

High Cotton wins the Sir Barton Stakes 5 1/2 length in front of stablemate Ultimate Goal on Saturday at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - The way the $100,000 unfolded was something of a microcosm of everyday racing: Todd Pletcher flaunting his considerable clout.

Pletcher horses ran first and second for the entire 1 1/16 miles of the Sir Barton, with front-running High Cotton turning back stablemate Ultimate Goal by 5 1/2 lengths.

High Cotton, rebounding from a ninth-place finish in the April 15 Arkansas Derby, appeared to rate comfortably throughout for Garrett Gomez. Ultimate Goal, ridden by Edgar Prado, moved to challenge midway through the far turn, but once the Pletcher duo turned for home, High Cotton drew clear under steady urging to prevail.

"He got a little breather around the first turn and up the backside," said Gomez. "He's a decent little horse, and he does things nice. He's professional."

High Cotton, owned by the Peachtree Stable, returned $10.40 as third choice in a field of seven 3-year-olds. Little Cliff finished another 5 1/4 lengths back in third, and Ah Day, the 11-10 favorite, was never a serious factor and finished fifth.

The Sir Barton was High Cotton's second stakes win, along with a wire-to-wire triumph in the March 25 Rushaway Stakes. A Kentucky-bred colt by Dixie Union, High Cotton also finished second in back-to-back graded stakes last fall at Churchill Downs. He now has won 3 of 9 starts for earnings of $220,450.

The winning time was 1:42.95 over a fast track, and the $2 exacta paid $46.80.

Ultimate Goal, a Storm Cat colt owned by WinStar Farm, was making just his fourth start. "We were in perfect position down the backside," said Prado. "At the top of the lane, I knew I couldn't catch the winner."