01/19/2011 6:21PM

Super Saver's little brother Brethren targets Sam F. Davis

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New York Racing Association
Brethren will try to give trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farm their fourth win in the Sam F. Davis within the last six years as the favorite on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- While Uncle Mo understandably garners most of the attention when it comes to trainer Todd Pletcher’s band of 3-year-old prospects, there are at least a half-dozen other prominent youngsters of both sexes who could have a major impact in stakes races throughout the course of the winter.

Brethren, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver’s little brother, is still a few breezes away from his 3-year-old debut.

“His first start will most likely come in the Sam Davis at Tampa,” said Pletcher, referring to the Grade 3 stakes on Feb. 12. “We’re looking for some graded earnings, have had luck there in the past, and I like the one-turn mile and one-sixteenth. It’s just more attractive than bringing him back at a mile and one-eighth.”

Pletcher said he sees a lot of similarities between Brethren and Super Saver.

“Obviously the pedigree is there and he has the affinity for Churchill Downs – we saw that in his allowance win there,” said Pletcher. “We’re very high on him.”

Pletcher will also be sending out a pair of debut winners, Lauburu and Financial Empire, in Friday’s 1 1/8-mile allowance feature. Lauburu is a half-brother to champion Ashado.

“He’s a well-bred, good-looking horse who we always had high hopes for,” Pletcher said of Lauburu. “Ashado was very precocious and obviously ahead of most of her generation at this point in her career. His brother Sunriver was slower developing and never really found his rhythm until the summer of his 3-year-old campaign. This colt is somewhere in between the two in his development.”

Financial Empire, a son of Empire Maker, won his debut going a mile at Calder.

“He’s also a work in progress,” said Pletcher. “He was courageous in his first start. It’s not easy to win at Calder when you’re not based there. We’ve seen some hints that he’s an improving colt, but like Lauburu he’ll be giving up experience to most of the others in the field while also trying a mile and one-eighth for the first time.”

Pletcher also advised that his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up R Heat Lightning is on schedule to launch her 3-year-old season in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at seven furlongs a week from Saturday. He is also looking forward to bringing back both Travelin Man and Shared Heart, impressive debut maiden winners earlier in the meet.

“Travelin Man surprised me a little bit,” said Pletcher. “I thought he could be competitive and could win, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that huge of a performance where he’d run a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. He might jump right into a race like the Hutcheson off that. I was obviously pleased with what Shared Heart did on Sunday, other than her erratic run through the stretch. We’re still not sure what that was all about. It was a little disconcerting and hopefully a one-time deal.”

Pluck breezes at Palm Meadows

The rain that kept workouts to a minimum Wednesday morning at Gulfstream and forced the races to be taken off the grass in the afternoon bypassed Palm Meadows, and it was one of Pletcher’s former pupils, Pluck, who topped the daily work tab.
Pluck, who was transferred from Pletcher to trainer Graham Motion’s barn following his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, breezed an easy half-mile around the dogs over the Palm Meadows turf course in 55.80 seconds. It was just his second work since arriving in south Florida earlier this winter.

Mountain Top not ready for two turns

One horse conspicuous by his absence from Friday’s allowance feature is Mountain Town, runner-up to Uncle Mo in the Grade 1 Champagne in his second career start. Trainer Rick Dutrow said he decided he would rather not stretch out the former claimer around two turns at the present time. Mountain Town has been training forwardly over the past month, most recently working six furlongs in 1:11.02 here on Jan. 5.
Nick Zito, on the other hand, waited specifically for Friday’s race rather than run his top 3-year-old prospect Dialed In a mile under similar first-level allowance race earlier in the meet.

“My horse is by Mineshaft, his style the first time out indicated he wants to go two turns, and his biggest asset is that he can rate,” said Zito. “A mile is still a sprint and these guys play for real down here. You can really knock a horse out in that type of race. I just thought this was the best way to go.”

– additional reporting by Jay Privman