Trainer Todd Pletcher had two of his best horses, Nokoma and Graeme Hall, out for morning trials on Sunday and was pleased with the way both horses went. Nokoma will run in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles while Graeme Hall is being pointed for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 9. Nokoma, with assistant trainer Cindy Hutter in the irons, worked six furlongs in 1:14 4/5 breezing while Graeme Hall was clocked in 1:02 2/5 breezing.
"Nokoma went well," Pletcher said, "I got him galloping out seven furlongs in 1:28 3/5. I'm very pleased with the way he's coming up to the Holy Bull."Nokoma ran greenly when finishing fourth in a seven-furlong maiden race in his career debut at Belmont Park on Sept. 22. The son of Pulpit then won a maiden test going 1 1/16 miles in his subsequent outing on Oct. 13 at that track. Pletcher then upped Nokoma to stakes company in his season finale, the 1 1/8 miles Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct on Nov. 24. He finished a game second, beaten a neck, in that test.
"He drifted out a little in late stretch from left-handed whipping," Pletcher said. "The winner (Saarland) drifted in a little at the same time and I think they bumped. But I thought my colt ran an excellent race."Graeme Hall, winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park and the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga as a 3-year-old, won the Eclipse Handicap (gr. II) at Woodbine last May. More recently, he won the Stuyvesant Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park on Oct. 27 and in his 2001 season finale was second behind stablemate Left Bank in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct on Nov. 24."He had a good work on Sunday," Pletcher said of Graeme Hall, "He's had a couple of good works over this track and we'll get more serious about him in his next couple of works. Our plans now are to run him in the Donn next month."