Trainer unsure on weekend

Published Sept. 26, 2002|Updated Sept. 3, 2005

Todd Pletcher has an asset in Harlan's Holiday and is keeping his options open on where to utilize it. The former Kentucky Derby favorite could start in the Pegasus Handicap on Friday night at the Meadowlands or in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Pletcher, who took over training duties from Ken McPeek after the Derby, has cross entered Harlan's Holiday in both, and is mulling his decision.

There are plenty of factors.

"By doing that you kind of more definitely know exactly who's going in there, what the post positions are," Pletcher said. "Sometimes people decide to enter at the last minute, which could change the pay scenarios of the two races.

"Plus, there's a little bit of weather in the area. It looks like we could have some rain that they're calling for to start on Saturday. If we're looking at a situation where we know we're going to have a fast track on Friday night at the Meadowlands and there's a pretty good chance of rain the following day that could affect our decision as well. Just kind of gives us a little extra time to cover all our bases."

Harlan's Holiday won the Grade III Pennsylvania Derby by 4 { lengths on Sept. 2.

Pletcher also has to consider how the choice of races serves to prepare Harlan's Holiday for the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 26. Pletcher said he wants to take a step forward by taking the easier route, which he assumes is the Pegasus over the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

REVENGE: McPeek is hoping Pletcher chooses the Gold Cup. He'll be waiting with Repent, the early spring Derby favorite who won the Grade I Louisiana Derby and Grade III Risen Star before injuring his ankle and being shut down finishing second in the Grade II Illinois Derby.

"It would be fun. I've always had my opinion about which one was better," McPeek told the Thoroughbred Times. "I would like for one day for them to hook up, it would be interesting. Not to be a politician, but there's no reason for me to ever tell you who is better."

SPRINTED OUT: Squirtle Squirt may not get a chance to defend his Breeders' Cup Sprint title Oct. 26 at Arlington Park if a sale to Japanese interests is completed this week.

The Daily Racing Form reported in its Wednesday Internet editions that the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association is close to completing a plan to buy the horse from David Lanzman and immediately retire him to stud. The Japanese interest also stands American-bred stallions Forty Niner, Captain Steve and Tabasco Cat, among others.

Bobby Frankel is training Squirtle Squirt at Belmont Park, but sounded as if that would soon end.

"I'd like to run him, but when you make a deal you got to go through with it," Frankel told the Daily Racing Form. "I'm still keeping him in training in case the blood work comes back bad, which I don't think will happen."

Squirtle Squirt, 4, won an Eclipse Award as the top sprinter in North America last year. He has a record of 8-4-0 in 16 starts and $1,112,220 in earnings.

DONE: Handpainted, a daughter of A.P. Indy, was injured finishing second in the Mazarine Breeders' Cup and will be shut down for the year. She was being targeted for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Handpainted won her first three races and finished 2 \ lengths behind Brusque in the Mazarine.

SUNSHINE MILLIONS: The eight-race series will pit California-bred horses against Florida-breds on Jan. 25 at Santa Anita Park in California and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. Purses will range from $250,000 to $1-million per race, for a guaranteed total of $3.6-million that day.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.