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Breeders' Cup 2017

Pletcher Loaded for Aqueduct's Holidayfest

Trainer Todd Pletcher appears to have a loaded hand for next week’s Heineken Holidayfest, with possible starters in five of the six Thanksgiving Week graded stakes.


In the Grade 3, $150,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, Pletcher is likely to be represented by seasoned veteran Caixa Eletronica, who carries the blue and orange colors of Mike Repole.


A three-time graded stakes winner whose most recent victory came in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 9 at Belmont Park, the 7-year-old son of Arromanches exits a seventh-place finish in Belmont’s Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 27. Caixa Eletronica counts 18 victories from 59 career starts at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. The horse’s sole win at 1 1/8 miles came during the 2011 Saratoga Race Course meet when he captured a starter handicap by a nose carrying 131 pounds. He was assigned 133 pounds for the Fall Highweight.


“He’s shown that he can carry a heavy weight and run well,” Pletcher said. “He seems to be in good form at the moment, breezed well this morning, makes sense to try. I think the track was speed biased [in the Bold Ruler]. It seemed like during that little window of time, very few horses were making up any ground. They had to run against the grain of the track.”


Caixa Eletronica covered a half-mile, breezing, in 49.30 on Friday morning over the Belmont training track.


Pletcher could have two starters for Friday’s Grade 2 Go For Wand Handicap with Morrow Cove, recent winner of Aqueduct’s Raging Fever overnight stakes, and R Gypsy Gold, who was most recently fifth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm on October 27 at Belmont.


“They are both under consideration for the Go For Wand if they breeze well tomorrow and if the field is light,” Pletcher said.


On Saturday, Pletcher is likely to send out 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap. The son of Bernardini finished second, beaten a head by Flat Out, in the Grade 1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational. Stay Thirsty has not competed around one turn since finishing second in the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful at Saratoga in 2010.


“With the way he ran in the Jockey Club last time – we put him into the race, he set some pretty fast fractions and ran very well – we think off a sharp performance like that and with seven weeks in between he should be a fresh horse,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully the cut-back will suit him well. As a 2-year-old he was second going 5 ½ furlongs, won going six, and he was a good second in the Hopeful. He’s shown some ability to run well in some one-turn races and hopefully being sharp and everything, he can do it again.”


Stay Thirsty is set to stand at Ashford Stud in 2013.


“It would be a huge win for him,” Pletcher said of the Cigar Mile. “For a horse that’s already accomplished a lot, especially a Travers winner to also show the versatility to win at a mile, would be a feather in his cap.”


Pletcher’s strong 2-year-old contingent will likely have a presence in both the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen and the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle on Saturday, with Micromanage, Delhomme and Violence probable for the 1 1/8-mile Remsen and recent maiden winner Unlimited Budget expected to return on short rest for the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle.


“We’ll make a decision after the breezes on Sunday,” Pletcher said of his Remsen starters. “It’s possible that Delhomme will get on a plane Tuesday and go to Churchill for the Kentucky Jockey Club [Grade 2, November 24, 1 1/16 miles], or possible that they could both run here.


“I think they’re comparable races,” Pletcher continued. “The only difference really is that one is a shorter ship and 1 1/8 miles versus a plane ride and 1 1/16 miles, but we’ve also had some success for WinStar at Churchill in the Jockey Club – Any Given Saturday, Super Saver, Gemologist – so maybe that will factor into it a little bit.”


Delhomme, owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing, broke his maiden at Belmont Park on October 13 going a mile. Mike Repole’s Micromanage exits a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne on October 6.


“I was disappointed in the Champagne,” Pletcher said. “I think we learned something about the way he needs to be ridden. He needs to be involved in the early part of the race a little more.  He’s the kind of horse that has a good cruising speed, and he needs to get into it as opposed to trying to make up ground in the stretch. The horse has trained very well before and since then, and we’re looking for an improved effort.”


Repole also campaigns Unlimited Budget, a 9 ½-length, first-out maiden winner on November 9 at Aqueduct.


“[The Demoiselle] is back quick, but she seemed to win with something left the other day and she’s come out of it physically well,” Pletcher said. “Looking at the calendar moving forward there just aren’t many opportunities. It’s not something we do often, but we’re considering it in her case.”


Expected to face the Todd Squad in the Remsen are Frac Daddy, Indy’s Illusion, Keep the Canoli, Normandy Invasion, Quinzieme Monarque, and Stormy Len.


Joining Unlimited Budget on the list of Demoiselle probables are Emollient, Listen Boy, and Watrugonnadoroise, with Giant Cats Eye also under consideration.




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