Pletcher Mines for Gold at Hollywood Turf Festival

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Todd Pletcher, the second-leading trainer in the nation with $11.5 million in purse earnings, seeks further riches in the two biggest races of the Hollywood Park Turf Festival next weekend.

Pletcher, who won the Hollywood Turf Express last year with Texas Glitter, will be represented in the $600,000 Hollywood Derby and the $500,000 Matriarch, the grade I turf highlights of the festival Nov. 30.

Pletcher confirmed from New York Friday that he planned to send Dancal to The Matriarch and at least one and possibly two colts to the Derby on a Monday flight. Willard Straight is definite for the Derby while Go Deputy is on the bubble.

Dancal, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare, has won two of three starts in the United States and captured the Violet Handicap (gr. IIIT) at the Meadowlands in her last outing Oct. 17. Regular rider Javier Castellano retains the call.

"She had run competitively in Dubai last winter and her owner was optimistic that she would do well here," said Pletcher. South Africa's Marlon Aronstam owns Dancal, where she began her career. She has won 11 of 21 starts.

"I would like to send both Willard Straight and Go Deputy, but Go Deputy is currently 15th on the list of probable entrants, and I won't ship him unless I'm sure he will get in," said Pletcher. The Derby lineup is limited to 14.

"Both are nice colts, and 1 1/4 miles should suit them well," said Pletcher. "It's a big step up, but this is the last big 3-year-old race of the year and they deserve a chance."

Willard Straight comes off an allowance victory on the Belmont turf Oct. 2. He has won three of five turf starts and earned $77,140. Go Deputy, fourth in the Lawrence Realization Stakes at Belmont in his last outing Oct. 11, has won two of four grass starts and earned $74,200.

Maximum 14-horse lineups are probable in both The Matriarch and Hollywood Derby, with at least that many candidates expressing interest in running.

Joining the Pletcher horses on the flight from New York Monday will be Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) winner Kicken Kris from the Michael Matz stable and Fortune Writers, third-place finisher in the Lawrence Realization for Jim Toner.

Silver Tree, winner of the Virginia Derby in July for trainer Bill Mott, is scheduled to ship west on Wednesday.

Sign of The Wolf, winner of the Prix Andre Baboin (Fr-III) in his last start Oct. 16, was scheduled to clear quarantine Sunday and be moved to the isolation barn after arriving from France Friday.

Etoile Montante and Mer de Corail are scheduled to fly Sunday from France and clear quarantine Tuesday.