Multimillionaire Balto Star is set to head postward in Friday night's $500,000 Meadowlands Cup (gr. II), and trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping to use the 1 1/8-mile dirt race to springboard the 6-year-old gelding by Glitterman to Lone Star Park and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 30.
"One of his biggest wins was the United Nations (July 5, 2003)," said Pletcher. "The race before that was a dirt race (Oceanport Handicap) and he's run well on the dirt before. He won the Arkansas Derby and the Jim Beam Stakes both on dirt. He's very multidimensional in the regard of turf or dirt."
While the Meadowlands Cup will be run over the dirt, Pletcher's plan involves running him in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) at 1 1/2 miles, although the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge, at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, remains a possibility.
"Right now we're looking at the Meadowlands Cup," Pletcher said. "If he runs lights-out, we might consider cross-entering him. We're intrigued by the Lone Star turf. He likes three turns, rather than two, but we'll still consider both races."
Balto Star's style seems to be running on the front-end, but the 37-year-old Pletcher notes that's not where he has to be.
"A lot of his races have been run on the lead, but he's not a horse that has to have the lead to win, he just often finds himself there," Pletcher said. "He's had two sharp breezes since the Man o'War so he may find himself up front again."
With 37 starts under his belt, Balto Star has amassed a record of 11-7-3 for earnings of $2,063,780. His last victory came on Dec. 27, 2003 at Calder, going wire-to-wire in the McKnight Handicap (gr. II). Among his 11 victories are one grade I, four grade IIs and one grade III. Out of the Devil's Bag mare Miss Livi, Balto Star races in the colors of Anstu Stable.
In addition to Balto Star, Pletcher is also expected to send Lion Tamer, winner of the Formal Gold Stakes at Monmouth Park in his last, for Friday's Meadowlands Cup. A winner of $531,140, Lion Tamer is a multiple grade II winner, taking the Hutcheson and Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap at Gulfstream this winter as well as the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Handicap at Keeneland in April.
The 4-year-old colt by Will's Way from the Olympio mare Tippecanoe Creek, is owned by Michael Tabor, who earlier this year captured the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) with Lion Heart.
Others considered likely for the Cup are:
--Dynever, a multiple graded stakes winner, who parlayed his
runner-up performance in last year's Cup to a third place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Christophe Clement-trainee has earned $1,288,714 with four wins from 13 starts.
--Gygistar, winner of the Grade 1 King's Bishop and earner of $778,485. Trained by Mark Hennig, the 5-year-old gelding by
Prospector's Music is 8 for 20 lifetime for earnings of $778,485.
--Toccet, victor of the grade I Hollywood Futurity in his juvenile
season, exits a runner-up performance in an allowance at Saratoga on Sept. 6. Now trained by Bobby Frankel, Toccet races in the colors of Daniel Borislow. The 4-year-old colt by Awesome Again has amassed nearly $1 million in earnings and is seven for 22 lifetime.
Considered possible for the Cup are:
--Gallant Sir, from the Richard Dutrow barn. He exits a 9 1/4-length romp in an optional allowance/claiming event at Monmouth on Aug 22.
--One Nice Cat, runner-up to Lion Tamer in the Formal Gold Stakes last out, is a 4-year-old colt by Storm Cat out of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Jewel Princess, by Key to the Mint. He sports a pair of wins from 17 lifetime tries.
--Unforgettable Max, trained by Bruce Levine, finished third in
last year's Cup, before being disqualified and placed fourth for
interference with favorite Volponi. He has earned nearly a quarter of a million from a record of 3-4-1 from 14 career starts.