Kentucky Derby Trainer Profile
Todd Pletcher has had a career that not many other trainers can compete with. He has won countless New York training titles at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga, 8 of his horses have won Eclipse Awards for being the best in their respected divisions including his horse Ashado who won Top 3 yr old Filly in 2004 and Top Older Filly in 2005, and as a trainer he won the Eclipse Award for Top Trainer Four consecutive years from 2004-2007. He saddled 3 yr old filly Rags to Riches to a Belmont Stakes victory in 2007 over Curlin giving Pletcher and his long time go to rider John Velazquez their first win together in a Triple Crown race, and he has three Breeders Cup victories with Ashado in the BC Distaff, Speightstown in the BC Sprint, and English Channel in the BC Turf. There arent many things that Todd Pletcher hasnt done as a trainer, but the one thing that he hasnt accomplished is the one thing that every trainer dreams of winning and thats the Kentucky Derby.
His lack of success in the Derby is not because of lack of effort. From 2000-2010 he has saddled an amazing 24 horses in the Derby not including this years Derby where he could potentially have anywhere from 4-6 starters to add to the list. OUt of those 24 starters only Invisible Ink in 2001 and Bluegrass Cat in 2006 were able to finish the race in 2nd. Invisible Ink came from the back of the pack to finish strong down the stretch but couldnt keep up with Monarchos closing kick and Bluegrass Cat settled in midpack and followed same route Barbaro did coming into the stretch but couldnt come close to Barbaro down the lane. Also, out of those 24 starters he only has one 3rd place finish in 2000 when Impeachment came from the back of the pack to finish a distant 3rd behind Aptitude and the winner Fusaichi Pegasus. What is even more surprising is the amount of his starters that finished in the bottom half of the field.
OUt of his 24 starters 14 of those finished way back in the bottom half, and out of those 14 5 finished dead last out of the 20 horses that made up the Derby field. Graeme Hall finished last in 2000, Wild Horses in 2002, and then for a three year stretch from 2006-2008 Todd Pletcher had the last place finisher each year with Keyed Entry bringing up the rear in 2006, Cowtown Cat in 2007, and MoNBA was the caboose in 2008. LUckily for Pletcher trainer D Wayne LUkas ended his three year skid (2006-2008) of not having a starter in the Kentucky Derby, so he was able to take the last place honors in 2009 with Flying Private thus helping his former assistant end the last place streak. For whatever reason the racing Gods have just not been very kind to Todd Pletcher when it comes to the Kentucky Derby.
In Pletchers defense, until this year he had not had a horse that going into the Derby you knew was going to be a tough one to beat. He has had some horses that got a lot of attention on Derby day like Dunkirk, SCat Daddy, and Bandini, but all of those horses had plenty of questions marks surrounding them going into the race. This was the year where it looked like the Racing Gods were smiling down on him, and with Eskendereya it looked like he was finally going to get his Derby win. But as we have seen with his past record that just would have been too easy, so they decided to make things a little more difficult with Eskendereya being scratched from his start in the Kentucky Derby Monday morning.
LUckily, Todd Pletcher has plenty of other options in the Pletcher Derby Army with Super Saver, Mission Impazible, Rule, Discreetly Mine, and possibly Interactif and the filly Devil May Care. That is not a bad lineup to go to for your 2nd string and while none of those colts seem to have the IT factor that Eskendereya did, thats the beauty of the Kentucky Derby. You dont have to be the super star horse to get the job done. As we have seen in the past with horses like Mine That Bird and Giacomo in the Derby sometimes the stars align just right for you. If in fact this is the year that future Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher finally gets the one thing missing from his Trophy Case that Kentucky Derby victory he is going to have to do it the hard way, but considering the bumps and bruises he has endured over the past 10 years under the Twin Spires I am sure he wouldnt have it any other way.