Todd Pletcher's barn shows new signs of life in wide-open, 3-year-old division

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Tuscan Sky wins Saturday's Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, a prep for the Grade I Haskell. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park
1 of 2 | Tuscan Sky wins Saturday's Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, a prep for the Grade I Haskell. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park

June 17 (UPI) -- It's no surprise some promising 3-year-olds should show up on Haskell Preview Day at Monmouth Park, but this weekend's performance was a double-barreled triumph for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Saturday showcase previewed the $1 million Grade I Haskell over the same track July 20 -- a heat that takes on even more than normal importance given the lack of a clear leader in the 3-year-old division.


The Monmouth card was the highlight of a relatively quiet weekend as all of racing gears up for this week's Royal Ascot meeting. The main action on the global front was the Group 1 Prix du Diane in France.

The 3-year-olds

Pletcher suffered an unusual drought in the first two legs of this year's Triple Crown as his only Kentucky Derby starter, one-time division leader Fierceness, finished 15th. He then was not represented in the Preakness Stakes. The Belmont was a better experience as Mindframe finished an encouraging second in just his third career start.


Two more once-promising Pletcher charges showed renewed promise at Monmouth.

Tuscan Sky emerged from a five-way scramble for the lead heading into the stretch turn in the $150,000 NYRA Bets Pegasus Stakes and ran on to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Domestic Product and Hades were second and third in a field replete with refugees from the Triple Crown trail.

Tuscan Sky, a Vino Rosso colt, won his first two races, then reported seventh in the Grade II Wood Memorial. He finished the 1 1/16 miles of the Pegasus in 1:43.31.

"I think this horse deserves a shot in the Haskell, the way he won this race," winning jockey Javier Castellano said. "The pace was quick and he was chasing and still finished good. That's a good sign going forward."

Then, on the same card, the aptly named Bright Future was shuffled back on the stretch turn in the $155,000 Grade III Salvator Mile, found another gear for jockey Javier Castellano as the field straightened away and rallied to win by 1 3/4 lengths from pacesetter Coastal Mission.

Bright Future, a 5-year-old son of Curlin, finished the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:33.96. Pletcher trains the winner for Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables.


Although Saturday's race was just 1 mile, Bright Future has shown he can go farther, finishing sixth in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita after winning the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga.

In other action:


Our Pretty Woman, the solid favorite, rallied from a stalking position in Saturday's $175,000 Monomoy Girl Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, took a daylight lead in the stretch and held off Intricate to win by 3/4 length.

Our Pretty Woman, by Medaglia d'Oro, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.07. Luis Saez rode for trainer Steve Asmussen.


Planetario rallied from next-last of six to win Sunday's $100,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita for the second straight year, lowering his own course record to 2:46.95 for 1 3/4 miles over firm going.

A 6-year-old Brazilian-bred, Planetario, finished a neck in front of Rockemperor at the end of the marathon with Hector Berrios up for trainer Richard Mandella.

Final Boss led virtually gate to wire in Sunday's $100,000 Cinema Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita, scoring by 1 3/4 lengths. Blue Eyed George was best of the rest. Final Boss, an American Pharoah colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on the lawn in 1:46.62 with Juan Hernandez up for trainer John Sadler.


Webslinger rallied from next-last of seven to win Saturday's $175,000 Chorleywood Stakes at Churchill Downs, outfinishing Sugoi by 1/2 length.

Webslinger, a 4-year-old Constitution gelding, ran 1 3/8 miles in 2:14.58 over firm turf. He was coming off third-place finishes in tougher heats in his last two starts for trainer Mark Casse.

Fort Washington rallied between horses and Running Bee came widest of all through the final strides of of Saturday's $157,000 Grade III Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park and dead heated for the win and second.

Filly & Mare Turf

Tax Implications rallied three-wide in the stretch run to take Saturday's $152,500 Grade III Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park by 1 3/4 lengths from a fast-gaining Maman Joon.

The pacesetter, Spirit and Glory, held on for show money. Tax Implications, a British-bred Mehmas filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.98.

Linda's Gift stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes at Santa Anita, challenged for the lead about the three-eighth pole and was in command thereafter, winning by 3 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Musical Rhapsody was second as Linda's Gift finished the 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 2:00.49.


Turf Sprint

Toupie tracked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park, took over with a furlong to run and won by 2 1/4 lengths. The Uncle Mo filly, a Wertheimer and Frere homebred, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.66.

Grooms All Bizness caught pacesetting favorite Souper Quest heading for home in Sunday's $108,000 Get Serious Stakes, dueled with that rival and then edged away to a 1 1/4-length victory. The 5-year-old Fed Biz gelding ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 55.76.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Accede dueled to the lead in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Bed o' Roses Stakes at Aqueduct, then fended off a late bid by Just Katherine to win by a neck.

Accede, a 4-year-old Juddmonte homebred filly by Into Mischief, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.83 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for trainer Chad Brown.

Around the world, around the clock


Sunday's Group 1 Prix de Diane for 3-year-old fillies certainly always looked to be a pretty competitive affair so it might not be fair to say the winner, Sparkling Plenty, posted an actual upset, particularly as she'd prepped with a win in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham.


However, the narrow victory over Survie certainly did come as a pleasant surprise to her connections. The Kingman filly surged to the lead some 150 meters out and held on for the win for trainer Patrice Cottier and owner-breeder Jean-Pierre Dubois.

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