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Breeders Cup 2015
Belmont Stakes 2017

Pletcher Eyes Hal's Hope for Zaikov

Zaikov 615 X 400
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Todd Pletcher, who has topped the trainer standings at Gulfstream Park for the last decade, looks to be on course for another successful winter in Hallandale Beach.

In addition to his usual strong contingent of 3-year-olds, the Eclipse Award-winning conditioner also has a pair of lightly raced Distorted Humor colts that could make an impact on the older horse division this season. Zaikov, out of action for nine months following an eye-catching maiden win last March at Gulfstream, got back on track on Dec. 13 by winning an optional claimer by 2 ½ lengths. The gray colt stopped the clock in 1:08 3/5 for six furlongs, and stakes company beckons for him next time.  

“I’m thinking about the Hal’s Hope (G3 on Jan.11) for Zaikov,” Pletcher offered. “We’ll see how he breezes next time. My original thought was maybe to wait for the Gulfstream Sprint (G3), but Feb. 8 seems a little far away right now. He’s training very well, so I’m going to consider the Hal’s Hope.”

Catron was benched after graduating first time out at Belmont in June, but scored by 4 ½ lengths under a hand ride in his comeback at Gulfstream on December 22. Although a little further behind in his schedule than stablemate Zaikov, Catron is also on his way to bigger and better things.

“There are a lot of similarities between the two,” Pletcher acknowledged. “Both are nice horses and hopefully have stakes futures. Catron could end up in the (Gulfstream) Sprint.” Pletcher gave his Champagne Stakes (G1) winner Havana a brief respite following his runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. 

“Havana is just getting back to light training,” Pletcher said about the Dunkirk colt. “I felt like I was going to be rushing things a bit to make the Holy Bull (on Jan. 25). Right now I have the Fountain of Youth (on Feb. 22) circled in as his first target. He’s been at Palm Meadows since the Breeders’ Cup.

He’s filled out and I think he looks great.”

Harpoon, who completed the exacta in each of his first three appearances, earned his diploma with a 5 ½-length score going a mile at Gulfstream on Dec. 26. Plans are currently fluid for the gray son of Tapit, but he will likely get a chance to run a bit further in his next start. “Everything’s in play for Harpoon,” Pletcher remarked. “We’ll continue to try to stretch him out around two turns and see where he fits.”               

 

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