Todd Pletcher could be in for another Breeders' Cup bonanza.
Last year, the nation's leading trainer broke through with his first two Breeders' Cup wins -- Ashado in the Distaff and Speightstown in the Sprint -- after an 0-for-12 run in racing's unofficial championships.
This weekend, Pletcher sends out some of his best thoroughbreds for final tuneups before this year's edition of the Breeders' Cup, at Belmont Park Oct. 29 in New York.
Among his stable of stars are Travers Stakes winner Flower Alley, the morning-line favorite for the $1 million
''I think he's the complete package," Pletcher said of Flower Alley, who will be taking on older horses for the first time, among them West Coast challengers Borrego and Lava Man. ''I feel we're holding a very strong hand."
A solid effort in the 1.25-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and Flower Alley's next race will be the $4 million BC Classic.
Ashado, the 3-year-old filly champion with a chance to repeat in the Distaff, won the Ogden Phipps and the Go for Wand handicaps this year but is coming off a dull fourth in the Personal Ensign in her last start. Pletcher says a minor foot injury bothered Ashado, but ''she's trained really well" since and ''you have to forgive her for one bad outing."
Pletcher will be one busy trainer the next few days. Today, he sends out 2-1 favorite Magna Graduate in the $250,000 Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.
Tomorrow, Pletcher has Virginia Derby winner English Channel in the $750,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Lion Tamer in the $500,000 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont; he also has Indian Vale in the $300,000 Cotillion Handicap and Yes Yes Yes in the $100,000 Gallant Bob at Philadelphia Park.
Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr., 62, comes out of a 10-year retirement for a one-day comeback to ride Indian Vale. Cordero, who has been exercising horses for Pletcher the past several years, will donate 25 percent of his earnings to hurricane relief.
On Sunday, Pletcher's Limehouse is likely for the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap and Unobstructed View for the Astarita Stakes.
Like Flower Alley and Ashado, English Channel is a potential divisional champion. The 3-year-old colt, being prepared for the BC Turf, won four in a row before a runner-up finish in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park Aug. 13.
''We feel like he's the best 3-year-old turf horse in the country," Pletcher said.
The Gold Cup drew a field of eight yesterday: Pacific Classic winner Borrego, Hollywood Gold Cup winner Lava Man, Pennsylvania Derby winner Sun King, Imperialism, Suave, Grand Reward, and Bishop Court Hill, entered by Pletcher as a ''rabbit" for stablemate Flower Alley.
Ashado faces six rivals: Sweet Symphony, Society Selection, Dream of Summer, Happy Ticket, Island Sand, and Personal Legend.
The 6-furlong Vosburgh drew 10 horses, including two entries -- Lion Tamer and Pomeroy (owned by Michael Tabor) and Silver Wagon and Tiger Heart (owned by Buckram Oak Farm).
The $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational has a field of nine, including Angara, Film Maker, Sand Springs, and Wonder Again; and the 1.5-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic drew an eight-horse field, topped by English Channel and undefeated Shakespeare.