02/12/2007 12:00AM

Wild ride for Circular Quay


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There are rough trips, like the one Lawyer Ron overcame to win his 2007 debut here Sunday, and the type of trip Circular Quay encountered the previous afternoon at the Fair Grounds in the Risen Star Stakes.

Or as Todd Pletcher, the trainer of both Lawyer Ron and Circular Quay, put it, "There is bad luck and then there is that." The "that" referred to the near-disaster that befell Circular Quay when he ran into the 80-1 Slew's Tizzy after the longshot clipped heels and unseated jockey James Graham at the top of the stretch of the Risen Star.

Circular Quay, with John Velazquez riding, somehow managed to recover both his stride and his composure to finish fifth in the Risen Star, his first start since checking home second behind Street Sense in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"I guess you can say he had horrible luck in one sense, but on the other hand he was fortunate to come out of the race unscratched," Pletcher said of Circular Quay. "He was running great up to the point in the race where the other horse fell in front of us. Luckily Johnny had a hold of our horse and was able to gather him up after the incident. In fact, Circular Quay really impressed me the way he ran by five or six horses in a hurry after all that. I guess the best way to look at it is if you're going to have bad luck along the way, that's the time to have it."

Velazquez said Circular Quay really showed him something with the way he recovered after slamming into Slew's Tizzy.

"To hit that other horse head on and be stopped the way he was and still finish like he did really impressed me," said Velazquez. "He accelerated again from almost a dead stop, and if nothing else the race really had to school him, because if he wasn't afraid of coming through horses after what happened Saturday, he never will be."

Lawyer Ron had to steady on a couple of occasions under Velazquez when he got trapped between horses before angling wide and asserting his superiority over eight overmatched rivals in Sunday's $57,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream.

"Part of what happened to Lawyer Ron was a result of our strategy to try to get him to settle and teach him something today," Pletcher explained Sunday. "He had a tendency to be a little headstrong."

Pletcher said he hasn't decided what will be next for Lawyer Ron but mentioned the Oaklawn and Metropolitan handicaps as options.

Another of Pletcher's Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Any Given Saturday, worked five furlongs in 1:02 at Palm Beach Downs on Sunday in his final prep for Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa. Any Given Saturday won 2 of 3 starts at 2, with his only loss a tough half-length setback to Tiz Wonderful in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Pletcher is looking to take the same winter route with Any Given Saturday, the Sam Davis and Tampa Bay Derby, that worked so well for last year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runner-up, Bluegrass Cat.

Pletcher also said he is undecided on whether he will run his multiple graded stakes-winning mare Indian Vale in Saturday's Grade 3 Sabin Handicap. Indian Vale, who has started just once since capturing Churchill Downs' Grade 2 Falls City Handicap in November of 2005, worked six furlongs in 1:15.40 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

"She worked well this morning," Pletcher said Sunday, "but we had a little setback due to a cough and missed a work last month, and I'm not sure she's dead-on fit enough yet to run her Saturday."

One trainer who will definitely pass the Sabin is Helen Pitts, who instead will send Grade 2 winner Leah's Secret to Maryland for Laurel's Barbara Fritchie Handicap the same day. Leah's Secret closed out her 2006 campaign winning the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland and the Anne Arundel Stakes at Laurel. She worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.20 seconds at Gulfstream on Sunday.

"The Barbara Fritchie is a Grade 2 and twice the money as the race here," said Pitts.

Kaplan plotting next moves

Trainer Bill Kaplan stayed over in New Orleans for a couple of days to take in the sights and savor the second-place finish of Imawildandcrazyguy in the Risen Star.

Imawildandcrazyguy also encountered trouble in the Risen Star. First he stumbled and got bumped at the break, then he raced in tight quarters around the final bend. Imawildandcrazyguy continues a phenomenal run for Kaplan, who also has Kentucky Derby contenders Drums of Thunder and Storm in May. Drums of Thunder finished second behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, while Storm in May won the Sunshine Millions Dash here earlier this winter.

Kaplan said the Louisiana Derby or Tampa Bay Derby are options for Imawildandcrazyguy's next start.

Surgery for Meditations

The promising career of Meditations may well have ended Saturday when she was pulled up by jockey Rafael Bejarano midway through the Grade 2 Davona Dale. Meditations, the 4-5 favorite in the Davona Dale, suffered a spiral fracture of the left front cannon bone and underwent successful surgery in Ocala on Monday.

"It took 16 screws to repair the injury," said trainer Ralph Ziadie, "but the vets said she should heal fine and should probably be able to race again, although that decision will be left up to Mrs. Bassett."

Lucy G. Bassett owns the homebred Meditations, who had won 2 of her 3 starts before the Davona Dale, including Calder's Three Ring Stakes by nearly 11 lengths.

* Street Sense, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award winner, worked an easy five furlongs in 1:03.40 over a wet-fast track at Palm Meadows on Monday. Street Sense is expected to have only two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the first of which could come in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes here on March 3.