12/28/2009 12:00AM

Wishful Tomcat in no rush to face tougher

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Adam Coglianese
Wishful Tomcat, easy winner of Sunday's Alex Robb, will likely test graded stakes company sometime in 2010.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The connections of Wishful Tomcat do plan to try their New York-bred against open company stakes horses again, but they just don't plan to do it right away.

Wishful Tomcat returned from a six-month layoff with a professional 2 3/4-length victory in Sunday's $69,550 Alex M. Robb Handicap for New York-breds at Aqueduct. It was his seventh consecutive victory against New York-breds dating back to December 2007. In between, he did win the Grade 3 Discovery last year, but lost three consecutive tries against graded stakes company earlier in 2009.

Michael Iavarone, co-president of the IEAH Stables that owns Wishful Tomcat in partnership, said he would like to see his horse have at least one more relatively easy race before seeking bigger game later in the year.

"We want to get aggressive with him but he's only had one race in six months,'' Iavarone said Monday morning. "We want to get him back his 'A' level. At some point, we're going to take a big shot - I definitely feel he can be a top horse. I'm not sure where that shot will be, but there will be a shot taken somewhere.''

In the Alex Robb, run over a muddy inner track, Wishful Tomcat went gate to wire under Ramon Dominguez, taking advantage of his inside post and the lack of any other speed in the race. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.92 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

"I thought he desperately needed it,'' Iavarone said. "When he got back to the winner's circle, he could have blown me over, he was blowing big time. A mile and a sixteenth off a six-month layoff, it was logical he would be tired. Dominguez said at the top of the stretch he usually tries to get out, but he didn't feel any of that this time; maybe he wasn't going fast enough.''

Races in New York for which Wishful Tomcat would be eligible include the $65,000 Evening Attire on Jan. 16, the $60,000 Elegant Life for New York-breds on Jan. 23, and the $65,000 Stymie at Aqueduct on Feb. 27.

Digger likely for Paumonok

Digger, who gave trainer Bruce Brown his first New York stakes victory of his training career in Saturday's $69,550 Gravesend Handicap, will most likely run back in the $65,000 Paumonok here on Jan. 23, Brown said Monday. There is also the $70,000 Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel on Jan. 16.

"I'd like to stay here,'' Brown said. "As of now, we'll pencil that in.''

Digger, under Anna Napravnik, held off 3-5 favorite Pashito the Che by a nose then withstood a claim of foul made by that horse's rider, Eibar Coa, to earn his fourth career stakes victory. Digger, owned by Mike Repole, is now 12-for-31 lifetime with earnings of $413,278. On Saturday, he ran six furlongs in 1:11.66 and earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He really came into that race good,'' Brown said. "We weren't going to put him in there, but it looked like a lot of closers for a sprint race and not a lot of speed.''

Brown said Gold Trippi, who finished next-to-last in the race, would likely ship to Gulfstream for his next start.

Pletcher barn looks to keep rolling

As things began to heat up in south Florida with next Sunday's opening of Gulfstream Park, it is likely that trainer Todd Pletcher's barn will cool down in New York. After winning 10 races from 21 starters over the first 11 days of the inner track meet, how can it not?

However, Pletcher could send out the favorite in the final two New York stakes of 2009 and the first in 2010. In Thursday's $65,000 Gallant Fox, Pletcher sends out three of the 12 runners in Nite Light, the 2007 Gallant Fox winner; Atoned, beaten less than a length in the prep for the Gallant Fox last out, and Tiger's Rock, a distance specialist who makes his dirt debut on Thursday.

The Gallant Fox, run at 1 5/8 miles, also drew distance specialist Lord Kipling, who won a 13-furlong race over the inner track last winter after running second, albeit 11 lengths behind Delosvientos, in the 2008 Gallant Fox. Borrowing Base, the mare who beat Atoned in the Power Lunch Stakes over the main track on Nov. 29, is also back.

In Friday's $65,000 Interborough Handicap, Pletcher plans to run Awesome Ashley and Distorted Passion, the first- and third-place finishers from the Garland of Roses on Dec. 5.

On Saturday, in the $65,000 Count Fleet for 3-year-olds, Pletcher will be represented by Ibboyee, who won the Damon Runyon by 2 1/2 lengths over the inner track on Dec. 6.

Miceli wins on two fronts

While Pletcher is batting at slightly less than 50-percent at the meet, one of his colleagues is doing even better. When E Z Passer re-rallied to win a maiden race Sunday at Aqueduct, it made trainer Mike Miceli 3 for 5 over the inner track. Entering the inner track season, Miceli had gone winless with his last 40 starters on this circuit dating back to July 6.

Down to just 11 horses, Miceli pulled off a rare interstate double Sunday, winning a $30,000 claiming race at Fair Grounds with Who Is Lady. Miceli, a former jockey who finished second in the 1974 Kentucky Derby aboard Hudson County, has nine horses at Belmont and two at Fair Grounds.

"We had a little drought so it was a nice thing,'' Miceli said Monday morning.

E Z Passer, a 2-year-old daughter of Southern Image, looked beat in the stretch when Does It Every Time, under Richard Migliore overcame a slow start to get past her, E Z Passer came back on that rival and got the victory by a head.

"I thought she was dead game,'' Miceli said. "She had to fight hard to get the win. It was encouraging. She's bred to go longer. Next time we'll probably stretch her out.''