Updated on 09/17/2011 10:35AM

Wet or dry, Pletcher's ready


ELMONT, N.Y. - Rain or shine, trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand for Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 Jaipur Handicap at Belmont Park.

The Jaipur is scheduled to be run at seven furlongs on the Widener Turf Course. However, the recent wet weather could force the race to the main track.

If the Jaipur remains on turf, Pletcher will send out Music's Storm, a 4-year-old son of Storm Creek who was a restricted stakes winner with trainer Eduardo Inda in Southern California. If the race is moved to the main track, Pletcher has entered Speightstown, who came off a 21-month layoff to defeat Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi in a recent allowance race.

Music's Storm has run once for Pletcher, finishing second to Package Storm in a third-level allowance race at Keeneland on April 24. In that race, Music's Storm dragged Pat Day to the lead after stalking the early pace, but Day did not ask Music's Storm for run until Package Storm came up to him.

"He was very confidently ridden by Pat Day," Pletcher said.

Music's Storm figures to be in a stalking position again in the Jaipur under John Velazquez. While Pletcher is confident Music's Storm will run well, "as far as soft turf goes, I don't know."

Green Fee will likely be favored in the Jaipur based on his love affair with the Belmont turf course. Green Fee is 6-3-1 from 12 starts over Belmont's turf, including a victory in last year's Grade 2 Kelso Handicap.

Though Green Fee runs better on firm turf than soft ground, trainer Danny Peitz said soft turf could still be of assistance.

"It may help, because the speed may not be as effective," Peitz said. "My biggest worry is seven-eighths may be a little short."

Equerry, owned by Godolphin Racing Inc., was a Group 3 winner in France at ages 2 and 3. He went winless in two dirt starts in Dubai, but returns to the turf and gets Jorge Chavez.

"You'd probably prefer to go a little further than seven-eighths, but this is a starting point for him," said Tom Albertrani, the New York assistant for Godolphin.

If the race is moved to the main track, Speightstown is the one to beat. Speightstown beat Volponi by a neck in a seven-furlong allowance race on May 9. It was Speightstown's first race since Aug. 3, 2001.

No Parole, winner of the Mike Lee Handicap for New York-breds at Belmont in May 2002, must also be considered if the race is run on dirt.

True Direction impressive in return

True Direction, away from the races since winning last November's Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct, made a smashing return to the races Saturday, taking a classified allowance race by 4 1/4 lengths. He covered six furlongs in the slop in 1:07.86, just .20 off Artax's track record of 1:07.66.

Also in the race was Zavata, who faded to last after setting the early pace in his first start since last October's Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Under Jerry Bailey, True Direction pressed Zavata from the outside, took the lead at the three-eighths pole, and splashed home an easy winner.

"It was an excellent race, but knowing they went three-quarters in [1:08.66] the race before, I figured he'd run pretty quick," Bailey said. "But it was a strong race. I worked him the other morning, he felt great; he felt great today."

Making True Direction's performance even more impressive was the fact that he lost his right front shoe during the race and was carrying high weight of 123 pounds. Trainer Carlos Morales said he may run True Direction back in the $250,000 True North Handicap here on June 7.

"He's a wonderful horse and he tries hard," Morales said. "I liked when it was wet, because I know he loves that kind of track."

* Jockey Richard Migliore escaped serious injury Saturday after his mount in the second race, Western Beau, unseated him during the post parade. Migliore twisted his left ankle and was taken to North Shore Hospital, where X-rays were negative. Migliore was expected to ride on Sunday and will receive the Mike Venezia Memorial Award at Belmont on Monday. The award honors the late jockey Mike Venezia and is given to riders who display sportsmanship and citizenship.

* Bird Town, the Kentucky Oaks winner, worked five furlongs in 1:03.42 Saturday at Saratoga. It was the fastest of nine works at the distance. Bird Town is being pointed to the Grade 1 Acorn on June 6.