01/24/2011 3:50PM

Tom Fool looks like best next-race option for Calibrachoa

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Calibrachoa earned a 96 Beyer for winning the Toboggan.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The tweaked winter stakes schedule created an additional graded opportunity for sprinters in New York and trainer Todd Pletcher plans to take full advantage of it at least when it comes to Calibrachoa.

Coming off his half-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct, Calibracho will likely make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap, also at six furlongs on March 5. The Tom Fool, a race traditionally run at Belmont Park, was not on the New York Racing Association calendar in 2010, but was brought back this year and re-positioned on the calendar. NYRA eliminated the Paumonok, moved the Toboggan to that race’s slot, and moved the Tom Fool to where the Toboggan had been run. The March 5 card is a four-stakes program topped by the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham for 3-year-olds.

While Pletcher said he would “keep an eye on’’ the Grade 2 General George at Laurel Park on Feb. 21 for Calibrachoa, the Tom Fool may work out better. Not only does it keep Calibrachoa at six furlongs – the distance of all six of his career victories – but it would allow Pletcher to possibly point Driven by Success to the General George. Both Calibrachoa and Driven by Success are owned by Mike Repole.

“I like the spacing of it, it gives him a little extra time,’’ Pletcher said of the Tom Fool.

Calibrachoa, claimed for $40,000 by Pletcher and Repole in November, earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure for his Toboggan victory, in which he outlasted a stubborn Independence War. Calibrachoa had earned a 103 for his win in the Gravesend last month.

Pletcher, whose better horses are stabled in south Florida, made a weekend trip to New York to spend some time with his family as well as check in on the 48 horses he has stabled at Belmont. Pletcher, who was at Belmont on a 7-degree Monday morning, is leading the standings this winter with 19 wins from 64 starters, four more wins than the white-hot Chris Englehart (15 for 35). Seven of Pletcher’s 19 inner track wins have come in stakes, including Heart Butte in the Evening Attire, Quiet Giant in the Lady On the Run, and Dance Quietly in the Busanda.

“Just felt like there were more opportunities for them here than down in Florida,’’ Pletcher said. “It’s sort of a tight program down there; you don’t get to run two turns with older mares till the Rampart. For horses that aren’t Grade 1 horses there are more opportunities here.’’

Midnight Visit may not be a Grade 1 horse, but the New York-bred 3-year-old filly showed some gumption winning a first-level statebred allowance race on Sunday. After stumbling at the break, Midnight Visit quickly recovered, but was bottled up just behind the leaders until the quarter pole when jockey David Cohen found some room and guided the filly on through en route to a 4 1/2-length victory. A daughter of Henny Hughes, Midnight Visit is now 2 for 2 for The Thoroughbred Futures Racing stable of Adam Corndorf and Andrew Cary.