02/01/2010 12:00AM

Tiger's Rock keeps Pletcher rolling


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It has been a tremendous winter in New York for trainer Todd Pletcher, and it's not even half-over yet. Pletcher won his seventh stakes of the inner-track season Sunday when Tiger's Rock rallied past stablemate Nite Light in the final furlong to win the $60,000 Coyote Lakes Stakes by a half-length.

The victory came a month after Tiger's Rock beat Nite Light by 4 1/2 lengths when the two also finished first and second in the Gallant Fox Stakes on New Year's Eve. Tiger's Rock is now 2 for 2 on dirt, and 3 for 3 on the main track going 1 5/8 miles. Though nominated to the Dubai World Cup - it's not clear yet whether he will get invited - Tiger's Rock is more likely to remain in marathon stakes with a start in the $60,000 Sharp Gary Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 28.

"The logical thing is to keep doing what's working," Pletcher said Monday from south Florida. "My first impression would be to go in there then maybe step out and try backing him up in [distance] in something like the Excelsior."

The Excelsior is a Grade 3, $200,000 stakes at 1 1/8 miles over Aqueduct's main track on April 3.

The halfway point of the inner-track meet is Thursday. Through Sunday, Pletcher has gone 23 for 53 (44.2 percent) and leads perennial inner-track kingpin Gary Contessa by six wins.

"It's the strongest winter I can remember we've had," said Pletcher, whose New York barn is being overseen by assistant Jonathan Thomas. "Part of that is we did a better job of selecting the right horses to stay back there. It's one of those things where everything has fallen into place and everyone's doing a great job."

Three Day Rush to Whirlaway

Pletcher trains Tiger's Rock for Starlight Partners, an ownership group headed by Jack and Laurie Wolf. That trainer-owner combination will be represented again in Saturday's $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes with Three Day Rush, who will attempt two turns for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Three Day Rush, a son of Harlan's Holiday, whom the Wolfs won the Florida Derby with in 2002, comes off a front-running victory in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 9.

"We're not a hundred percent he wants to go that far, but the basic idea that Jack Wolf and I talked about is let's go ahead and answer the question now instead of later," Pletcher said about the colt's distance capabilities. "If he does handle the two turns, then we got a lot of options. If he doesn't, then we can back up and focus on the shorter races."

Three Day Rush is out of the unraced mare Predictress, who is a half-sister to Prophet's Warning, who won the 1998 Ladies Handicap at 1 1/4 miles over the inner track.

A short field is expected for the Whirlaway, led by Eightyfiveinafifty, a 17 1/2-length maiden winner going six furlongs on Jan. 9. Others likely to run include Papa's Nice Cat, second in a New York-bred allowance last out, and Turbo Speed, who finished third in the Count Fleet, his first start around two turns.

Repole moves some horses

Pletcher picked up another stakes winner in his barn in Driven by Success, one of six horses owner Mike Repole moved from trainer Bruce Levine over the weekend. Repole moved three horses to Pletcher and three to Mike Hushion.

Repole, the leading owner in New York in 2009 with 51 wins, said the fact Levine is spending most of the winter at Gulfstream with Kentucky Derby contender Buddy's Saint played a role in his decision to move the horses. Repole still has nine head with Levine.

"This is nothing that wasn't discussed for the last month,'' Repole said. "I know the word around the track is that I moved all my horses and fired Levine, and that is totally untrue. Bruce couldn't make it up here three days a week, and while he has good assistants, my horses that were running with Bruce hadn't been successful."

Repole gave Driven by Success, Arrr Pirate's Booty, and Winaholic to Pletcher. He gave Lights Off Annie, Tapped Out Bruno, and an unnamed 3-year-old Tiznow colt to Hushion. He also gave Hushion My Anguilla, who has recently returned to the track after a freshening.

13-year-old may get another shot

Repole said that the 13-year-old Cool n Collective, who finished second in a $7,500 claiming race Sunday, could get another start or two before being retired. While trainer Bruce Brown said there is a spot on Feb. 14, Repole said that he would prefer to wait until the end of the month or even until March before trying the gelding back.

Repole said he wouldn't run Cool n Collective again if he's not 100 percent. "My number-one priority is the horse," he said. "If the horse could talk, I think he'd ask for another chance."

Cool n Collective may never get a better chance to win in New York then he did Sunday when he got loose on the lead, turned back a challenge from Who Needs to Know, but was overtaken by Saratoga Lulaby in deep stretch.

"He really ran good - he's a game horse," Brown said. "I don't think he would have ever let that horse that was next to him by him. Mike [Luzzi] said he couldn't pull him up after the race. He's not in any way sour - he still really wants to do it."

Brown said Cool n Collective came out of the race in good order.