Team Pletcher: Version 2011

Todd Pletcher leads all North American-based trainers in 2010 with more than $22.6 million in earnings and should have his fifth Eclipse Award locked up. His first Kentucky Derby win and three Breeders' Cup victories may have made this the most rewarding year of Pletcher's career.

With 2011 right around the corner, it's only logical to take a quick look at Pletcher's barn, especially considering all eyes will be on leading Derby contender Uncle Mo once the calendar turns. Pletcher took a few minutes on Tuesday to shed some light on the top horses in his stable.

JS: Starting with your 2-year-olds, obviously Uncle Mo is the one everyone is talking about. When will he arrive at Palm Meadows?

TP: He is scheduled to arrive on December 8 from J.J. Crupi's farm in Ocala.

JS: Is the Hutcheson (on Feb. 26) the most logical spot for his first race back if you want to start him back at one turn?

TP: I'm not afraid to start him back at two turns, the only thing I don't want to do is run him a mile and an eighth in his first start back.

JS: That eliminates the Fountain of Youth. If not the Hutcheson, what are some other logical spots?

TP: It all depends on timing and when he tells us he's ready. The Tampa Bay Derby (on March 12), which is a couple weeks later than the Hutcheson, is a possibility, and I also wouldn't rule out the Gotham (on March 5 at Aqueduct).

JS: What about Stay Thirsty? Would the Fountain of Youth be the most logical since it looks like he wants longer?

TP: No, we probably don't want to run him back at a mile and an eighth either to start. All the same races as Uncle Mo would be in play except they won't run in the same race.

JS: What are some other 2-year-olds you are high on?

TP: I would say Brethren would be the other (half-brother to Super Saver that won an allowance last Saturday at Churchill). He's 2-for-2 and obviously has a pretty nice pedigree. We're excited about him.

JS: Would you say R Heat Lightning is at the top of your 2-year-old fillies list right now?

TP: She ran very well (in the Breeders' Cup). I thought it was a gutsy performance. Right now I would say she is at the top of the list. We'll point her to the Forward Gal (Jan. 30) for her first race back.

JS: What about the More Than Real? Will she stay on turf?

TP: She'll stay on turf for the time being. It's too soon to tell where we'll bring her back, there isn't much at the beginning of the year for her. She's at my dad's farm for now. We'll look for something sometime in March or April.

JS: As far as your handicap horses, is Colizeo probably the best right now?

TP: Yeah...maybe him and Rule. We're hoping both will improve off this year.

JS: How is Rule doing?

TP: Rule has been training at Churchill Downs. He was entered in an allowance race last week but it didn't fill. He's on his way down to Palm Meadows and we'll probably look at the Hal's Hope (Jan. 8) for him now. He's had a nice little vacation at WinStar and seems to be doing well.

JS: What about Mission Impazible?

TP: He's also at Palm Meadows and he'll have a breeze on Friday. We're hoping he'll be a good handicap horse for us next year.

JS: Your top sprinter is obviously Discreetly Mine. How is he doing since his injury?

TP: He's doing well. He had a nice 60 days off and hopefully he'll come back to us as good as he was this year. I thought he was as good a sprinter as there was in the country. We'll look for something at Gulfstream in March.

JS: What about your turf horses?

TP: I'm not sure yet. We're a little light on turf horses right now. Bribon will come back next year and we'll look at the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (Feb. 12). Interactif is getting some some time off at the Wertheimer's farm in Kentucky. We'll look to bring him back in April or May.

Pletcher also mentioned that Devil May Care and Life At Ten will join him at Palm Meadows shortly and will be pointed to 2011 campaigns. And, he confirmed that Go Go Shoot, who had a nasty spill in the Fall Highweight Handicap last week, somehow came out of the race OK other than being very sore. He will get 60 days of farm rest before any further decisions are made.



Leave a Comment:

Ted from LA

Uncle Mo has to watch out for Curly (out of Curlin) and Larry (out of Larry the Legend).  I think either of these could knock him off.  Watch their last performance here.

30 Nov 2010 4:11 PM

pletcher will start with 200+2.y.o.s

those that don't succomb, will show up at saratoga, and win, and perhaps 2 or 3 will show up at c.d. next nov.

as for this years turning 3 on jan. 1st.

the best will win at g.p. and perhaps 2 or 3 will be at c.d. on the first sat. in may. MAYBE.

30 Nov 2010 4:53 PM
Sharon M

Any news on Juvenile Turf winner Pluck?  I'm surprised he isn't mentioned.

30 Nov 2010 5:14 PM
Jason Shandler

Sharon: Pluck was moved to the barn of Graham Motion after the BC. Pluck's owner, Team Valor, has moved all of their horses to Motion.

30 Nov 2010 5:16 PM

I watched this 2yo horse Gator Champ work at Churchill a few times and although a bit green, he has worked out with 2 other 2YO's that looked awesome in their races last week at Churchill.

30 Nov 2010 5:17 PM


Nice interview, but when it is all said and done, Winstar will win its second KY Derby with Brethren.  Super Charger will go down in history as being the first mare to foal two KY Derby winners.  Uncle Mo is a great horse but like Noble's Promise, his prdigree will catch up to him on the first Saturday in May.  

One more prediction:  Pats will crush the Jets on Monday!

30 Nov 2010 5:27 PM

I can't wait to see how Stay Thirsty progresses; he's under the radar, but I think he's very good.

30 Nov 2010 5:52 PM

vision followed by execution . nobody does it better than Mr Pletcher

30 Nov 2010 5:52 PM

Once again John Shirreffs will get the shaft in favor of a "supertrainer". Asmussen last year and Pletcher, with his 5th or so Eclipse, this year. I hope voters will reward Mr Shirreffs for the work he has done keeping Zenyatta going and hitting all her announced targets for 3 years. Something Mr Pletcher seems incapable of doing.

Last year the Eclipse should have gone to the trainer who was the first to win both the Ladies Classic and Classic in the same year. And they came from a relatively small stable. Instead Mr Asmussen was rewarded for not screwing up the work that Hal Wiggins had done with Rachel Alexandra.

This year we have the award "locked up" by a trainer who always had his excuse book in easy reach when one of his superstars didn't win. Both  Devil May Care and Life at Ten  lost races because he didn't know they were sick (hepatitis and something unnamed).And Quality Road lost twice to Blame. Once because an uncontested lead wasn't his favorite way to run (The Whitney) and once because a contested pace cooked him (Classic). And this horse was the "next coming" according to Mr Pletcher. Oops, no. That would have been his Derby favorite Eskendreya who didn't even make it to the first sat in May. And of course his Derby winner never hit the board again before being retired.  And Discreetly Mine, the best sprinter in the country who couldn't get to the BC. And the 2 yr old filly Position Limit. And so on and so on. He had more horses injured and/or retired than Mr Shirreffs even has under his shedrow. I'm tired of numbers winning awards. When will voters go back to the days when a trainer was recognized for the work it takes to make a great champion reach their potential? Bud Delp won for 1 horse. Ron MacAnally won for 1 horse. Bill Mott won for 1 horse.

Mr Pletcher will go to the podium for having the numbers to replace horses who were hyped into greatness, but ultimately disappointed.

Who would you rather have train your horse? The man who might get a good performance or 2 out of them before they go to the sidelines but luckily for him he has 50 other owners throwing horses at him or one that can nurture and help your horse achieve to it's highest ability?

30 Nov 2010 6:18 PM

Uncle Mo will be the 3YO everyone will have to beat in 2011 but here are a few on my radar that have him in the 'crossears': Santiva, Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner, To Honor and Serve, Mucho Macho Man, Major Gain and floridian upsetter Reprized Halo.

30 Nov 2010 6:21 PM

@Ted from LA:

that was very silly... :-P

30 Nov 2010 6:39 PM
Mindy C.

I like Modern Cowboy from the Pletcher barn...  He is ready for a

stakes race !!!!

30 Nov 2010 7:10 PM
Jason Shandler

Wanda: Seriously? I dont know where to begin so I'll just simply say..LOL, and quit while Im ahead. Thanks for the chuckle though. It's been a bit of a boring day, I needed that.

As for the question about who I would rather have train my horse? Mr. Pletcher every day and twice on Sunday.

30 Nov 2010 8:14 PM

Todd did a great job with his two year olds, Uncle Mo, More Than Real,  and Pluck -- I hope Mo keeps moving forward and isn't like a Devil's Bag, peaking at 2.  If Distorted Humor and Elusive Quality can sire KD winners, so can Indian Charlie.

Mike Repole is  a great spotlight for horse racing -- he is energetic and is fun -- the kind of owner who can bring positive attention and attract others to the game.  

Good luck to Todd, Uncle Mo and Mike Repole.

30 Nov 2010 8:41 PM

John Shirreffs is a hundred times the trainer the Todd Pletcher could ever hope to be. The key to Pletcher's success is strength in numbers, and when you're getting horses from guys like John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Edward Evans, Bill Casner, Ahmed Zayat and many other big name owners, how can you not be the leading trainer every year? Pletcher also fails to understand that most basic rule of training: horses are individuals. Pletcher has gained a reputation for training horses the same way. You can't use the same training regimen on every horse you have! Hasn't he read "Traits of a Winner"? Also, you would never in a million years see anything like the Life At Ten debacle if Shirreffs had been her trainer. What kind of trainer sees his horse in the paddock, thinks she's tying up, but let's her race anyway? The only thing Pletcher has going for him is his self-image. Pletcher is style, while Shirreffs is substance. People like the Mosses hire John Shirreffs because they know he is a great horseman. Pletcher's owners hire him because he looks like one.

30 Nov 2010 9:13 PM
Ian Tapp


There is a difference between Eclipse Awards and "People's Choice" Awards.

There are many excellent trainers out there. Pletcher's stable size and quality is a function of him being a savvy trainer, manager, and businessman. I wouldn't knock Pletcher for his accomplishments this year or any.

Shirreffs, also a top trainer, maintains a smaller stable, as is his preference. He has a different approach, and in doing so positions his stable toward different goals. Having successfully trained Zenyatta is quite the reward in itself. Not getting the Eclipse should take nothing away from that.


30 Nov 2010 9:15 PM

Pletcher will run  a 2yr old on Thursday(if it gets rained off turf) that is fantastic...may not be Derby bound, but is a real runner....Dance City...don't say I didn't tell you :)

30 Nov 2010 9:40 PM

I like trebloc's way of thinkinig. Go Brethren!

30 Nov 2010 9:54 PM

No comments from Pletcher on Life at Ten?  Surprised that Ms. Debartelo is keeping her horse with him.  Is there a tell that Barry Irwin moved all his horses to Motion?  Interesting.

30 Nov 2010 10:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Uh, Pletcher and Sherriffs are both great trainers. Different styles. I would think there is room enough for both types of trainers in the sport. There is no need to take potshots at either one.

I like Uncle Mo. I don't think anyone should sell him short because of pedigree. Also like To Honor and Serve. Two to root for next year.

30 Nov 2010 10:43 PM
Jason Shandler

Pletcher will break nearly every trainer record there is before he is done. His body of work speaks for itself and he is a class act to boot.

Too bad he "doesn't understand that basic rule of training." Imagine how good he could have been. Maybe as he accepts his fifth Eclipse Award he can learn the error of his ways.

30 Nov 2010 11:35 PM

Pletcher does such an excellent job with his horses, Uncle Mo is a freak two year old and I cannot wait to see him race next year. I also can't understand why people find it necessary to bring up Zenyatta and her connections in every single blog posted. I'd give my opinion but I'm sure two hundred other people are going to.

Pletcher is a great trainer, charismatic man, and with the success of three BC winners, he obviously is doing something right.

01 Dec 2010 12:06 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Todd Pletcher catches a lot of injuries early before they get in a race. I suspect that his breakdown rate in races is extremely low, and I suspect is one of the lowest(best) rates in the business. He almost always has his horses healthy and ready to run. With Life At Ten it was something he's not used to encountering, was caught off guard without enough time to take action. He was a little stunned judging by his expression. He will learn from that experience. I'm hoping that Discreetly Mine will come back healthy and raring to go. I still say he is a sprint monster. The Quality Road path was disappointing to me because I wanted to see him run more often at a mile and set records but owners seem to be involved more in which races horses are pointed to than ever, and horses are often pointed to races for breeding fees potential more than to win races at their optimal distance. Todd Pletcher is a class act all the way, and gives more information to the public than most trainers which is a service to the entire industry. No one in the industry has a demeanor that exudes class more than Todd Pletcher does. His horses are all as healthy as a horse at all levels, and that is one reason owners like to give him their horses. He also is willing to run them all over the country. He will own numerous lifetime records when he is done that will never be touched. I would imagine that his relationship with his owners and all of his staff is very, very good and respectful. He is in the Royal Family in the Sport of Kings.

01 Dec 2010 12:23 AM
Bev C

Pletcher is over hyped . He should be winning more races with the number of horses he trains . He ran life at ten in the breeders cup and should get no award this year just on general principle .

01 Dec 2010 12:33 AM


01 Dec 2010 1:59 AM
Lynard in IN

I still can't believe Pletcher stated that he thought Life at Ten was having a reaction to Lasix she was given, however he failed to scratch her. I feel sorry for those that bet her.  If I ever had a racehorse I certainly wouldn't let him train it even if they build his own wing at the Hall of Fame!

01 Dec 2010 4:25 AM

Here we go again. First Zenyatta was knocked for running on fake dirt, but that it was thae CHRB who mandated synthetic surfaces. She was 19-19 and most people couldn't wait to see her lose and supposedly it was because she didn't run on the east coast. Now we have alot of people wanting Uncle Mo to lose and he is an east coast based colt who is perfect in 3 starts while toying with the competition without even being asked for anything close to his best. He easily defeated the best 2 year olds in the Juvenile to wrap up the 2 year old championship. He is without a doubt one of the best 2 year olds ever winning each race while never being put under a full out drive. I just don't get it. Every time a super horse comes around and wins with ease without even being asked to run and closes with such strong final fractions like Uncle Mo has while not even being asked to run everyone wants to see them lose. The sport is struggling yet alot of people seem to get angry when a colt as fast as Uncle comes around and destroys the competition while never even breaking a sweat. Everyone needs to study his replays and watch him come home with rediculous closing fractions while never even being put to a drive. One more thing. Uncle Mo gets a 94 beyer while winning the Campagne in 134:2 with a final quarter in 24 flat without being asked but To Honor and Serve gets a 102 inthe Remson

while running a pedestrian time. There is something wrong with this picture because Uncle Mo got pressed for six furlongs in 1:10.2 while just cruising on the lead and To Honor and Serve had an uncontested lead through slow fractions and comes home pretty slow. The beyers in those 2 races should be swapped. Now that Zenyatta is gone I guess Uncle takes the very underserved bashing. Like I said he has run rediculously fast while John just sits like a statue. It boggles the mind. I thought for sure Pletcher would go with the Hutchison, Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial progressing from 7 furlongs to a mile and and eigth. It's pretty concerning that he's talking about only 2 preps. The 3 prep route that I outlined is the best way to go. As for To Honor and Serve I don't expect much next year.

01 Dec 2010 4:40 AM

How long did it take Pletcher to win his first Derby? And how long did it take Shirreffs? Sounds like one of the records Pletcher will be breaking is most losses in the Derby! Pletcher's wins are derived solely from strength in numbers. All he is is a great recruiter of great horses. He certainly hasn't made any horses great or managed any of his horses to the point of being praiseworthy. There are few true horseman in this sport. Shirreffs is one of them. Pletcher can have his Eclipse Award, but it should be for Outstanding Recruiter. A real trainer would never have let a situation like the one with Life At Ten ever take place. If you'd prefer to send your horse to a guy like that go right on ahead.

01 Dec 2010 4:45 AM

Wanda and Stevebiscuit,

No denying that Sherriffs is a quality trainer.  But trainer of the year?  For his work with just one top horse in 2010?  Why do you think it is that Sherriffs doesn't get top horses from any other owners besides the Mosses?  His next best horse Zardana is a second-tier mare and Life Is Sweet never won more than an allowance race off of Pro Ride.  In LIS's case, just like Zenyatta, maybe she could have had a greater legacy if Sherriffs had tried her on tracks other than Hollywood and Del Mar where her record was mediocre. Could it be that big-time owners don't want a trainer that hates to ever leave his barn and won't take their horse and campaign it around the country against the best competition?  

The Zenyatta fanatics will just never stop.  Yes, SHE was the greatest race mare I've ever seen, and belongs prominently on the  list of all-time great horses.

But because of this, the Z-nuts make Sherriffs the best trainer, Moss the best owner, St. Trinians and Switch in a class with Blame, etc.

And they're just not, really. They've done nothing to deserve such accolades other than being associated with Zenyatta.  Wanda and Stevebiscuit, if that isn't your opinion, I'll stand corrected but as for the rest of you, get a reality check.

01 Dec 2010 5:04 AM


Todd Pletcher is a very good trainer, very professional and a gentleman.  Kudos to him.  There are very good reasons why he attracts the numbers.

John Shirrefs is also due a lot of respect for being able to keep Zenyatta racing at peak form over three seasons.  He obviously gives very particular attention to his charges and his record speaks for itself.  

We don't live in a perfect world and everyone has their faults and has made blunders.  Todd Pletcher made a huge blunder in the Life At Ten debacle and I'm pretty sure that John Shirrefs, in hindsight, must be regreting some missed opportunities with Zenyatta such as the not entering the Personal Ensign stakes at Saratoga last Summer or the Pacific Classic at Hollywood Park.  Add any of those races to Zenyatta's resume and the Breeder's Cup Classic would be merely gravy, where HOTY is concerned.  His ability to have his horses 'ready to rumble' is par excellence but as a campaign strategist, one has to admit that he failed miserably in not copping the HOTY three years in a row with the big mare.  Now that would be the stuff of a hall of famer and it could have been done with just minor tweaks to Zenyatta's program.  Hindsight is 20/20 vision but foresight is stuff of geniuses.

01 Dec 2010 5:06 AM


I agree with you that Mike Repole is a breath of fresh air, for horse racing.  But then again, what would one expect from a Mets fan!  Too many knuckleheads in the horse business are seen walking around with Yankee caps!  It will be refreshing to see some Met caps at the sales!!

01 Dec 2010 8:06 AM
Pedigree Ann

"Pletcher will break nearly every trainer record there is before he is done."

So did Wayne Lukas in his day. Yet I believe that HIS talents lay more in evaluating young horses, stable management, and promotion, rather than day-to-day training of individual horses. Such trainers depend on their assistants to do the job that Shirreffs and his ilk believe to be the actual job of a trainer - working hands-on with each horse under their care. When the horse has the natural ability to run a distance of ground, a Lukas or Pletcher can train them to win classic races. However, I do not think that either could take a front-running miler like Ack Ack and turn him into a monster at classic distances, as master-trainer Charlie Whittingham did.

01 Dec 2010 9:03 AM

How about a new stat for trainers. Take the number of horses they train for a year and come up with an average earning per horse for the stable. Pletcher is a good manager. His team consists of high volume and the highest quality, most expensive horses. The deck is stacked. He is out there winning with the cream of his crop. Because of his volume he is seen everywhere. Bottom line is; his publicity is good for the game. He is a commercial for horse racing, and we need all we can get to keep the game interesting to the public.

01 Dec 2010 9:15 AM

Seems to me this blog was meant to inform the readership about Todd Pletcher's plans for some of this top horses next year. ... Why must it go astray???

01 Dec 2010 9:27 AM

Todd Pletcher is an outstanding trainer. You don't get nearly 200 owners lined up at your door for training unless you are very good at what you do. Pletcher is a very hands on trainer and despite the fact that he has so many horses in training he is able to know what each one is up to on any given day.  His attention to detail is unbelievable. I got into racing when Rags to Riches won and I started out following his barn to get myself aquainted with the sport of racing.  He has the most incredible website and you can follow each and every horse's progess through their stats on that site. You don't win the Eclipse award 4 years in a row and you certainly don't win 3 BC races if you are not the caliber of Pletcher. Sure he has a big stable and maybe should be expected to have such a showing, but he pulls out the big ones and he is great with the babies as well. I think he is stellar and deserves all the accolades that he gets. Now, go Mo go and Stay Thirsty boogie!!

01 Dec 2010 9:48 AM

Jason, I am kind of surprised that you would pick T.Pletcher over J. Sherriffs. If TP wins the Eclipse Award, he'll have won it for being the best business man. It should be for the best horseman. Todd has good connections who all have very deep pockets. Give anyone a lot of top pedigree, very expensive horses & you are bound to find youself with several champions, simply because of who the horses are, which has nothing to do with what you do or don't do with them. Most, if not all of Todd champions were born with their talent & they brought that talent with them when they showed up @ Todd's various barns. Couple that with Todd be a good businessman & finding the right assistant trainers to fine tune that God given talent. If you has hundreds of horses in you barns, like Todd P. & Steve Ausmussan, the law of averages tell you that you are bound to have a few champions in the bunch even if you never spend a single minute with them yourself.

The same applies with numbers of wins. If you have ten thousand horses getting in the starting gate, again, law of averages tell you you are bound to have a lot of wins. Again, it has nothing to do with how good you are as a horseman, but it does speak about who you are connected to & how rich they are.

Then, consider J. Sherriffs, who is given an inexpensive, very large 2 yr. old filly. He spends almost 2 yrs. patiently & carefully preparing that horse for the races, listening to that horse every step of the way & turns that horse in THE champion of the ages. He did it himself, without a bus load of assistant trainers doing all the work.

Jason, you can't for a second believe that Todd Pletcher or Steve Ausmusson would ever have been capable of bringing out Zenyatta's best as J. Sherriffs did, do you??

So, you have trainers like TP & SA in one hand, really corporate CEO's and in the other hand you have trainers like JS, true hands on horsemen. Who should the Eclipse Award go to...the corporate CEO or the true hands on horseman??? To me, the Eclipse Award is not a Forbes List Award or any other Wall Street Award. Then, you'd have to pick TP or SA. But, when did the Eclipse Award  for best trainer become the award for the best CEO?

01 Dec 2010 9:51 AM

When a trainer has so many horses,that there isnt enough time in the day for him to go by the stall and pat each one,whos training the horse?Now if Todd and Steve had to work  consistently with a 50 horse stable, where would they be today.You drop enough lines in the water,you will eventually catch fish.

01 Dec 2010 9:56 AM
Jason Shandler

Why do you think Todd gets as many horses as he does? And why do most of the top outfits send him their best horses?

Hmmm....Im just guessing here, but maybe it's because he is the best at what he does. Or maybe he actually is a top notch horseman. Or perhaps he has the unique ability to get the best out of each horse, put them in the right spots, and give them them the best chance to win. I know it's crazy, but it was just a thought.

There is a reason the best athletes get paid the most money. It's because they are the BEST at what they do. Pletcher didnt get handed 200 of the best horses every year right out of the starting blocks. He proved over many years that he is a winner. And that is why people give him their best horses. As an owner, that is the name of the game--winning. This year he is winning at a 25% clip with all of those horses this year. Not bad huh?

ColetteMarie: Every day and twice on Sunday.

01 Dec 2010 10:41 AM

amen wanda and stevebiscuit

plus how come the b.c. championships

usually name hoy except when zenyata


01 Dec 2010 11:44 AM
Susan from VA

I've never been a fan of "factory farms," whether it involves chickens, pigs or thoroughbred training, no matter how efficient they may be.  Of course, Pletcher came by the technique honestly, having worked under D. Wayne Lucas, who seemed to have perfected the concept.

01 Dec 2010 11:46 AM
Billy's Empire

Jason, it is obvious that many of those responding have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to managing a stable an training horses. They are all Zenyatta fan's and all of them claiming John Sherriff's should be the eclipse award winner for trainer of the year are nuts. John Sherriff's started 77 horses in 2010 so far. The next closest to him in the top 100 trainers in the U.S started 118, and that was Jimmy Jerkens. Only one trainer in the top 100 started less, Brian Meehan, and he started 5, and he is from Europe. Sherrif's had 17 winners on the YEAR, the whole year, and  5 of those were Zenyatta. So other than Zenyatta, Sherriff's had 12 winners out of 71 starts, 16%. Please, plesae please stop with this crazy talk. Asmussen started 1200 more horses than Todd this year, yet Plether has 7 million more in earnings. He is a great trainer, and his team is fantastic. By the way, Lukas winning percentage was 12. Every trainer in the top 10 trainers had a winning % over 20% with the exception of Billy Mott, who was 16%.

01 Dec 2010 11:54 AM
Pam S.

Wanda and Stevebiscuit, I think you made some very good points in your posts yesterday.  I wouldn't necessarily back Shirreffs for the trainer Eclipse this year (what's the point, if they didn't see fit to vote for him last year, they certainly won't this year), BUT I would not vote for Pletcher because of the Life at Ten situation.

For the life of me I don't see the comparison between Shirreffs bemoaning "lost opportunities" (for what?) and Pletcher fleecing bettors out of millions because he "didn't know what to do."  As head trainer, it's his job to know what to do.  I agree he may have learned something from the incident.  But in the year in which the lesson was (somewhat embarrassingly) learned, I would not reward him with an Eclipse.  There are other good trainers out there.

I think TP has a strong reputation for getting young horses to the Derby by winning so many of the preps.  The owners aren't dumb; they know there can only be one Derby winner, but I'll wager they are thrilled just to get their horse in the gate, because it's so coveted and such a great experience to be in the Derby.  Nothing wrong with that, except some of the horses might never be the same again because it was "too much too soon" for them.  

01 Dec 2010 12:12 PM

pletcher is the name the important

part to remember is team pletcher he is only as good as all of the unsung

grooms and hot walkers and assts, without the quality help he has he wouldn't get it done.

01 Dec 2010 12:19 PM

I wish Todd would do a 'tell all' about what happened with LAT, of course he never will.

01 Dec 2010 12:34 PM

What I'm arguing is not who should be trainer of the year, though I think turf writers should put a little more thought into it than just simply looking at who's at the top of the standings. I'm just saying that I'd trust Shirreffs with my horse more than I'd trust Pletcher. Shirreffs gets the best out of all of his horses and is a master at getting them to peak for the big races. Pletcher's management of Life At Ten and Quality Road has been pretty amateur. I'd send my horses to Shirreffs because I know that they'd be taken care of and perfectly managed. I can't say the same for the inheritor of already made horses, Mr. Pletcher.

01 Dec 2010 1:23 PM

To say Todd Pletcher is a hands on trainer is laughable at best.

01 Dec 2010 1:34 PM

I have nothing against trainers like Todd P. or Steve A. But, to me, they are trainers who manage their horses on computer & the cell phone. It's a lot like picking a school for your child. Do you pick a school because a lot of kids go there or do you pick a school with a few kids & small classes? I picked the small school with small classes. It's the best decision I could have made. The teachers know each & every child & have the ability, because of the small class sizes, to bring out the very best in each child. The school (stable) with the smaller number of kids (horses) gives the students (horses) the chance to develop their very best if the teachers (trainers) are true teachers. I sometimes wonder, after watching what John S. has brought out & developed from Zenyatta's ability, what other horses who came & went could have become. John started off with a $60,000 horse & helped her develop into THE horse of the ages. I don't think trainers such as Todd P. would or could have ever done such a magnificant job. The sheer numbers of horses they "manage" would have prevented it. Horses that find themselves in their barns came there with very high price tags. Many of them are expected to be champions before they ever get to anyone's barn. Their price tags tell you that as does their pedigree & that has nothing to do with who is training them. A $60,000 yearling became the biggest phenomenom to ever walk onto a racetrack in over 40 yrs. because she was in the hands of a true horseman, a great trainer.

01 Dec 2010 1:44 PM

Does John Shirreffs deserve to win based on guiding a superstar horse through an easy, spoon-fed campaign?  No.  Sorry.  No way. Maybe I could buy the argument for last year.  Not this year. Pletcher won the Derby and 3 BC races.

I have no problem with Pletcher winning the award.  If anyone should win it based on guiding a superstar horse through a great campaign this year it should be Jerry Hollendorfer and not John Shirreffs.

01 Dec 2010 2:16 PM
Pixie Lou

Pletcher is just a reincarnation of (ugh) Lukas. Just like a factory farm. The trainers who have my respect are the ones that know their horses personally, take care of them on a day-to-day basis and aren't so big that they lose that. The public didn't see the number of horses Lukas broke down to get the numbers in the winners' circle

01 Dec 2010 2:31 PM
Kyle S.

@ imply that you have any idea what type of trainer Todd Pletcher is, or any other trainer in America for that matter, is laughable.  

01 Dec 2010 2:40 PM
Anthony Bourdain


Pletcher is a business manager more than he is a trainer. Kudos to his abundance of asst. trainers & staff for making it happen,much like Lukas had it back in the day when Pletcher WAS a hands on assistant.I mean,I would think when you consistently saddle 20% of the field in stakes races you're bound to have some success.And with all those bullets in his holster they'll eventually hit their targets,so here's hoping his candle doesn't burn at both ends like his mentor's did.

01 Dec 2010 2:49 PM

Another blog that deteriorates.  Neither could train a horse like Whittingham could.

01 Dec 2010 2:54 PM
Mike Relva


You theme is the same,ALWAYS neg. regarding Zenyatta and connections,much like a broken record! Have you ever won a Derby and Breeders' Cups? Just asking,cause I haven't. John has!

01 Dec 2010 2:56 PM
Ted from LA

Seems to me this blog was meant to inform the readership about Todd Pletcher's plans for some of this top horses next year. ... Why must it go astray???

JerseyTom 01 Dec 2010 9:27 AM

I agree with JerseyTom.  I started this thread with an on-topic comment and nearly everyone else has thrown it in the ditch.  One last thought, I wonder who would have won last year in a race between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra if  Shirreffs were training Rachel and Pletcher Zenyatta?  And while we're on the subject, why did Shemp replace Curly (by Curlin) in the first place?

01 Dec 2010 2:57 PM

Todd Pletcher is a businessman through and through and there is no shame in that. He has his ducks in a row when it comes to his team and kudos to him for that. I fail to see HOW people can compare Todd and John. One is a businessman and the other is a horseman... the one thing they have in common is that they are successful trainers.

I like both trainers for different reasons but I DO hope that Todd has learned from his LAT issue.

01 Dec 2010 3:02 PM
Chris Y

Jason good luck with this discussion :)  You have every end of the spectrum posting on here.

There are people bringing up trainers and their percentages who have NOTHING to do with this discussion. What does that have to do with this subject?

You have people throwing out comments about trainers out there when they have NO idea what actually goes on with their outfits and inside their barns and just repeat old stories they've heard.

The ONE end of the spectrum that has virtually no representation on these boards are the people who actually KNOW what these guys face and what they do every day.

No use for you or anyone who might actually KNOW trying to explain it to any of them, it's a losing battle.

It's pure speculation and personal bias from people and you just can't change that, no matter how much you try.

In some cases it's jealousy which is funny when you and I know that it's doubtful that these people have ever even SEEN any of these guys let alone know anything about their training methods or abilities.

The same old same old, trying to prove their point of view by putting down each other or someone in the industry. Why not try and prove your point with RELEVANT facts and statistics fans?

I thought the discussion at hand was what Todd has on the horizon for next year?

01 Dec 2010 3:17 PM

Really Mike Relva?  Not towards Zenyatta.  And only towards her connections for the campaign this year. Certainly I could buy an argument that Shirreffs should win the award last year.  This year, come on.

I respect Pletcher but he is far from my favorite trainer.  I take no stance on whether he is a better trainer than Shirreffs.  I just don't know enough about training to make that judgment.  I can only judge based on body of work and what I see in the media regarding their personality.

My favorite big time trainer is Baffert or Zito.  I also like Linda Rice, Bill Mott, Jerry Hollendorfer, John Servis, Tim Ritchey, Larry Jones and Graham Motion to name a few.

If I had a horse, I'd send it to a smaller, yet established trainer like Linda Rice, Kristen Mulhall, or Helen Pitts.

01 Dec 2010 3:25 PM
Bev C

Jason you ask why Pletcher get so many horses to train . One of the reasons he is overhyped by people like you and owners fall in line with your type of thinking . In short its called advertising by some sports writers .He should have a higher percentage of wins if he is so great.

01 Dec 2010 3:27 PM
Ian Tapp

To all who are saying Todd Pletcher is not a horseman:

During college, I spent four summers working for Pletcher at Saratoga and Belmont. I suppose the fact that he's known as a good businessman and manager clouds the perception of his horsemanship.

Here are some points to consider:

1. He grew up around racehorses; his dad is a trainer

2. He graduated from University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program

3. He worked for Charlie Whittingham

4. He was top assistant for D. Wayne Lukas for several years

5. He is usually on horseback, ponying his own horses during training hours

6. He palpates the legs of each horse and watches them jog before they go to the track

7. He is present during vet work; his eye for diagnosing lameness is as good as top vets

8. He is one of the most confident handlers of racehorses. If you question this, click here to watch video after Unbridled Belle flipped before the Delaware Handicap


01 Dec 2010 3:33 PM
Jason Shandler

I think Ian made it clear that Todd is a very capable horseman and anyone saying otherwise is way off base and speaking without any knowledge of the subject. Perception is reality. If Todd wore a cowboy hat and a flannel shirt instead of a suit and spoke in a different manner he would be thought of in a different light than just a businessman.

Bev C: I pointed out that he's winning at a 25% clip this year. You want him to be higher than that? What, like 35 or 50%. How about 75%, would that be ok?

01 Dec 2010 3:41 PM
Bev C

If Pletcher were getting the ordinary run of the mill horses to train one be one thing however in many cases he is getting the creme of the crop whats so great about 25 percent with the best bred horses in the land ?You are right i do not know a great deal about horses however i do have common sense and can read and see what goes on .

01 Dec 2010 3:55 PM
Jason Shandler

Bev C.: Let me educate you. Of the top 10 trainers in North American this year by earnings, only one other trainer has a higher win % than Pletcher, Tony Dutrow at 29%. Nobody else is higher than 25%. Winning at a 25% clip for a year is superb by anyone's standards, especially at the highest level. Throw in the fact that he is in the money with 55% of his starters from more than 1,000 runners and Pletcher is having a tremendous season. And I havent looked it up, but I can almost guarantee he has more graded wins than anyone this year. I know he has more than anyone over the past decade. Hope that helps Bev.

01 Dec 2010 4:06 PM

You can tell Todd learned a lot from Lukas.  These guys always have a lot of help behind the scenes.  His assistant trainers deserve a shout out.  They also inherit a lot of quality horses from other barns.  When did Todd acquire Quality Road?  When did Baffert get Pioneer of the Nile?  Those horses step off the trailer tuned and ready to run.  Not to take anything away from them but these are huge barns.

01 Dec 2010 4:38 PM

Ian, if Todd had the eye of a vet then why did he let Life At Ten run anyway. Sure he's been around many experienced horsemen, but he certainly shouldn't be equated with any of them. Pletcher is no Whittingham or Lukas. Besides, Peter Miller worked for Whittingham and he's known on the backside for cheating. The list you gave only proves that Pletcher has had everything handed to him. Shirreffs is a self-made trainer.

01 Dec 2010 4:40 PM

I love Mr. Pletcher and win money betting his horses. I do think he is guilty of reaching w/ some.

Quality Road couldn't get a 1 1/4. I knew that and I've never been near QR.

I have the same reservations with Uncle Mo, that pedigree screams 1 1/8.

Maybe, he'll outrun it but I will be Betting against on Derby Day.

For the life of me, I don't understand the logic of running these 3yo's at short distances to prep for a 1 1/4 race. Uncle Mo has all the speed he needs. When will he get the stamina? One race at a 1 1/8 is not gonna do it (IMO).

Let me preface this by saying I definitely respect Mr Pletcher's abilities. I just question that approach because I can't recall an instance where it was successful.

01 Dec 2010 4:41 PM

Nobody can "train" 200 2yo or 200 of any age. I have said many times before, sitting in a barn office and looking at a spread sheet with horses listed that aren't at the track Mr, P is at is not training and never will be. He is a manager and salesman and that is it. The LAT performance speaks volumes about Mr. P's abilities as well as about is commitment to his horses.

01 Dec 2010 4:43 PM

Chris Y - I guess I am one of the people you are talking about when you say - "You have people throwing out comments about trainers out there when they have NO idea what actually goes on with their outfits and inside their barns and just repeat old stories they've heard."

You are very right. I don't know Todd Pletcher, never been to his barn or anyone else's for that matter. But I have read everything possible that I could and watched everything ESPN, TVG and HRTV has thrown out there about him, and other trainers for that matter. I've tried to keep an eye on his stats as well as those of his horses as best I can. That does not make me any sort of an expert on him I know. But it does make me feel I've some small degree of insight and knowledge about him and his operation. Therefore I confidently stand by the opinions I made.

Now back to the original topic of this blog - besides Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, I feel very psyched about R Heat Lightning.

01 Dec 2010 4:55 PM
Ian Tapp


Thanks. Take my personal observations as you'd like. However, it seems to me that you don't fully understand the topic you're attempting to comment on.


01 Dec 2010 5:01 PM

Ian, what don't I fully understand? Enlighten me, you seem to know more about my background than I do.

01 Dec 2010 6:12 PM

And in response to number 8 on your list, all it takes is an experienced hot walker to calm a horse down. I know because that was once my occupation and I had to do the same thing with much more rambunctious horses than Unbridled Belle. You don't have to be a horse whisperer to calm a horse.

01 Dec 2010 6:21 PM

So, Pletcher sends out a sick horse in the Breeders Cup and he's rewarded with another eclipse?  Why do I bother to stay involved?

01 Dec 2010 6:22 PM
Jason Shandler

Steve: He's trying to tell you that he's worked with Todd for four summers and he has first hand information about his skills as a horseman. Unless you worked alongside Todd, I think Ian has a little bit more insight than you on the subject. Its called speaking from experience.

01 Dec 2010 6:37 PM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for the interview, Jason. Whether one "likes" Todd Pletcher or not, he certainly has some talented horses in his care, and watching Uncle Mo's progress through the spring will be something special I think. I'm wondering if some race fans are reacting to Mr. Pletcher's rather dry demeanor during televised interviews when forming negative opinions about him. He's not "folksy" or loquacious, and therefore maybe not as likeable as other trainers who have those attributes. His winning percentages speak for themselves though.                                

01 Dec 2010 6:43 PM

He certainly leans towards Lukas and not Whittingham when it comes to Kentucky Derby starters but hey it paid off this year but not without the other "what?" moment of Devil May Care being entered as well.  Was he around Charlie during the Sunday Silence days?  I remember Whittingham showing up to the Preakness with a big shoe print on his head where Sunday Silence had reared up and got him good.  He just shrugged it off, took the bar shoe off of Sunday Silence's brused foot and the horse went out and put on one of the best performances ever in the history of the Triple Crown.  Love to look at the pictures of his early years with his horses jogging up and down the Solana surf at Del Mar.  I'm sure he owes a lot to the Bald Eagle.  

01 Dec 2010 6:57 PM

Ok, then speak from experience and tell me what Pletcher was thinking when Life At Ten was being loaded into the gate at the expense of the bettors. Maybe someone who has "experience" with Pletcher can help me see the genius behind Pletcher's decision. Such incompetence should not be rewarded. Give the Eclipse Award to Jerry Hollendorfer!

01 Dec 2010 7:11 PM
Mike in SB

Uncle Mo is the most exciting 2 year old to race in many years, and with the retirement of so many established horses, racing needs a star 3 year old next year. The only thing that worries me is the decision to run him only two times before the Derby.

01 Dec 2010 7:11 PM

Pletcher's 3.7 million dollar horse was trying to beat Quality Road in the Florida Derby as I recall.  Lukas certainly had his high priced Derby bombs as well (Houston).  So much hype and then some horse that can't get the minimum bid at the yearling sale wins the Kentucky Derby.  

01 Dec 2010 7:12 PM
Ian Tapp


Obviously the Life At Ten fiasco is still being investigated. Keep in mind that only stewards have the authority to scratch a horse once it has entered the paddock, and in the end this should cause stewards to adopt new procedures.

Pletcher said he told Velazquez to give Life At Ten a good warm-up because she was quiet in the paddock. No one is happy about the events that ensued, but at least Velazquez was informed of her demeanor and as a result took care of her--he never asked her to run.

Without knowing everything that may have transpired, it's clear that Pletcher identified that Life At Ten was behaving somewhat abnormally, and conveying this to the jock may have ensured her uneventful journey out of the starting gate.

You have a right to your opinion. It's easy to critique one example where things didn't go perfectly, but don't blindly assault a man's character because of it.


01 Dec 2010 8:32 PM
Chris Y

Just like I said Jason, it's a no win discussion. The problem is, the people who think they know everything don't really know anything at all. They just speculate and try to push their negativity.

Ian knows more about it than any of these people disputing him, so do a few of us.

This talk about great assistants of Lukas and Pletcher. Where in the world do these people think these guys came from?  Do you think they fell off the pumpkin truck?

Most of them came/come to Lukas and Pletcher with little or no experience. The few like Todd when he worked for Wayne had been with his trainer Dad since he was a small boy. Some of these guys who did have backgrounds in racing were with Lukas at the request of their Father or family member.

Listen fans, you cannot be with horses for 25-65 years and not have some horsemanship skills.  

The same people who have won big races, including the Derby, with high priced horses have also won with homebreds.

Like them or hate them they've stuck with the profession and the game through thick and thin. Through good times and lean times and I sure can't say the same thing for the fans of racing.

01 Dec 2010 8:39 PM
Bev C

Back to what this was originally about . I read in blood horse the past couple years about how great pletchers horses were and how great he was.

Watchede a very frightened horse in the breeders cup last year break thru the gate . It was already admitted the horse had problems in the starting gate the great pletcher finally got him some special schooling after the fact

this year watched lat come in last, again another  trained by the great pletcher why would I want to read about his two year olds this year how many kentucky derbys hAs pletcher  and his hyped 2 year olds won at three?

01 Dec 2010 8:41 PM
Chris Y

Dani, you and a lot of others condemn these people based on what you read and what you hear. Most of it is just hearsay or opinions.

I think I read once where someone said if reading about something, listening to TV programs could make someone an expert why don't we all become brain surgeons that way?

Fans who don't get up at 3 or 4 every morning, work in the cold and the heat, spend time away from their families and/or lay waste to their personal relationships for the sake of their profession don't have a clue.

Like Ian says, stuff happens and anyone with experience with horses knows it isn't that something may happen it's that it WILL happen.

If the high priced horses won every race, if the same trainer won the Derby every year because he has the best prospect there wouldn't be any point in running them. You try to figure out who is the best prospect, keep them out of your stock or buy them at the sale and then do your best with them. It's skill, talent and no small part LUCK.

I just can't get over how the people who never trained a race horse are such experts who think they should be listened to over the people who have done this their whole lives. Amazingly unbelievable.

01 Dec 2010 8:53 PM

Dr Drunkinbum:  your post of 12:23 AM was very well writtenm, and exactly right:  Mr. Pletcher is a classy and gifted trainer - owners like Mr. Melynyk realize that and they are spot on.

01 Dec 2010 8:53 PM

Right on PixiLou! Couldn't agree more!

01 Dec 2010 8:56 PM

There is a reason why so many big-time owners flock to Pletcher and Asmussen.  They are recognized as two of the very best trainers in the game.  Their outstanding records speak for themselves. The best managers and coaches always get the best athletes.  Phil Jackson won six rings with the  Jordan and Pippen when the prior coach couldn't.  That's why he was given the Lakers with Shaq and Kobe, and he won another three championships.

And yeah there's no question that three BC wins and a TC win easily trumps NO BC or TC wins for the year.  It's bad enough that some fans want to award Zenyatta HOY as a career achievement award, when in fact she did enough on her own merit this year to be a deserving candidate without all that sentimental nonsense.  But now we're supposed to give Sherriffs a career achievement award too?  You can make a legitimate argument that Zenyatta accomplished as much as Blame did in 2010, even if some disagree.  But there's no way you can objectively claim that Sherriffs accomplished as much as Pletcher did this year.  Last year was a different story.  Shirreffs won two BC races and he would have been a deserving winner.  But he lost the vote to Asmussen, who also had an outstanding year, fair and square.

01 Dec 2010 9:26 PM


There are no bad workers, just bad supervisors. If he's winning the big races with the best horses, it is because he has managed to put together a winning team that meets and exceeds owners' expectations.

Mr. Shirreffs should write a book titled "How to lose the HOTY award three years in a row with the best horse in the land"...Maybe he'll get a Pulitzer...

01 Dec 2010 9:33 PM

To those who try to say I am a zenyatta freak to explain my opinion, I say I am someone who misses the days when the awards were given for individual achievements. I am also not someone who is interested in a "people's choice" award. Racing is strictly a numbers game now. Asmussen and Pletcher run hundreds of horses a year to set their records. And they have won the majority of Eclipse awards this century. It bores me as a lifelong fan of racing.  There are 2 trainers who have the only two horses mentioned for Horse of the Year. And yet neither seems to be in the running at all for the Trainer award. Why even bother voting? Just hand the statue to whoever won the most money. That seems to apply to the jockeys too.

As to why Pletcher has 200 owners lined up to give him horses? Monkey see monkey do apparently. The reason why is because he can get 1 or 2 eye catching wins with early maturing horses like Eskendreya before they crumble. And that's what sells in the commercial market. Eskendreya is going to stud at the second highest fee of the incoming sires...$30,000. Solely due to his prep season. THAT'S why owners line up at his doorstep. The great Derby winner Super Saver won 1 race this year. But he had "nothing left to prove" as his ads proclaim. That's why Winstar stays with Pletcher. He uses the bruised cannon bones as a reason why the horse ran so poorly after the Derby. He had months to catch on that something was wrong and he apparently didn't. I initially was impressed by his actions immediately after the Ladies Classic debacle. But as more information came out it made him look like a newbie trainer with his first shot at a major race and who was afraid to scratch his horse. Alternately, he just isn't hands on enough to know something was brewing with the mare. She spiked a fever the next day. That's not a result of a Lasix shot.

01 Dec 2010 9:39 PM

Chris - I have never condemned anybody, ever, and most certainly not Todd Pletcher whom I greatly admire and whom I went on and on about in my first post. I fully admitted that I have no expertise of any kind in the world of racing or horses. The only way I have of learning about the world that these incredibly dedicated and hard working people put their heart and souls into is, unfortunately, through the media. But I have learned a lot about them through the interviews they give - Pletcher has given a lot of them. And thank you Jason, by the way, for the interview that started this blog. I'm just wishing now it would have stayed on its original topic.

01 Dec 2010 10:02 PM

It seems like people on both sides think they know everything.  As we have seen in many other sports, just because you are involved in it doesn't mean you know more about it.  Obviously he is a very talented trainer.  But you cannot dismiss the people who say he is successful because of the people with whom he has populated his team.  It is like a political cabinet.  If you choose well, it runs well.  He has great successes.  He also has question marks.  In this day and age, numbers and quick results are the name of the game.  He gets the headlines because he gets horses to run.  He gets great bloodstock because his horses do well and he is high profile.  He seems to be great with two-year olds and that draws the attention of the owners who want a quick turn around on their investments.  He wins many high profile races, which draws the attention of owners who want to be in the spotlight.  He puts up big numbers, and if you are the type to think that makes him legendary, then he is.   If you want to say he is the greatest numbers guy, then great.  But, in my humble, non-industry opinion, he has a very long way to go before you start calling him one of the greats of all time, records or not.  I have nothing against him and he seems like a genuine guy.  He gets results and that is what investors want, no matter if it is the thoroughbred world or the corporate world.  He does what he is supposed to do.

01 Dec 2010 10:19 PM
Chris Y

Sorry if I misunderstood Dani.

Yes almost every interview with someone from the industry turns into this same thing.

Must be frustrating for Jason and will eventually hurt the very people who want to hear about the game from the inside. The involved parties will just not put themselves out there if it continues.

Passive-agressive, love/hate or whatever anyone wants to call it.

01 Dec 2010 10:25 PM

Wanda.........Great post.  You hit a nail on the head.  I like Pletcher, but I also think that as his stable grows he is becoming less and less hands on.  Great trainers should be solely responsible for the training of their horses, not like a general manager that sits back and let others do the majority of the work.  The same with Asmussen.  Where would he be without his help in particular Mr. Blasl.  And yet who gets the recognition?

Livesoutwest......Get Jackson to coach the Raptors or the Cavs and let's see how many titles he wins.  Its easy to win win you have the stars.  Let's see how great some of these guys are when they actually have to develop the stars and not have dozens and dozens of two year-olds to deal with.

01 Dec 2010 10:25 PM

Ian, my problem is that Pletcher said that he thought Life At Ten was tying up in the paddock. Though I know the horse was taken care of, Pletcher should have informed the stewards or the official veterinarian of his concerns. It made no sense to waste the bettors' money. I, like Jason with Zenyatta, am not attacking Pletcher, but rather his legion of fans who think he's the god of trainers, which is simply false. He's good at what he does, but he trains nothing but the best. I've never heard anyone say, "Man, that Pletcher really turned that horse around" or "What a great training job by Todd Pletcher". If your gonna go by the numbers then Pletcher has yet to approach Asmussen's 650 wins in a year record. I have no problem with either of these guys, but it's annoying when people start making them out to be the next Charlie Whittingham. In wins, yes, as horsemen, not even close.

01 Dec 2010 11:27 PM
Ian Tapp


I'm glad to hear you're no longer attacking Pletcher. Like I said, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, and I think it's fair to acknowledge the substantiated strengths and weaknesses of competing training styles.


01 Dec 2010 11:55 PM
Tom FV

Todd has nothing close to the numbers that Steve has. A big percentage of Steve's starters are claimers at best.

What is amazing about some of the top level trainers of present and past is and was the number of winners they have or had that were stakes winners. That is one of the most difficult tasks, the most difficult horses to manage and succeed with. The expectations are never as high for claimers or even allowance horses. From everyone including fans and handicappers.

I think what is forgotten here is when Todd left Wayne and went out on his own it took him a while to get horses and a while to win his first race.  He's a hard worker and very detail oriented.

Tell me, how many of you started hotwalking when you were seven years old?

Why don't some of you ask Todd or any of the trainers you choose to try and dissect, any question about any horse in any of their barns?  I can assure you that the successful ones can tell you every single thing about them. The people who work for them are handpicked and have to prove themselves. Trust me on this.

Surely you cannot be serious Footlick? Would you say that the science teacher at the local middle school knows as much about what goes on at NASA as someone who works there? Or that you know as much as the veterinarian you take your dog to, or the Dr whose care you seek if you break your arm? I think not and frankly that sounds arrogant. Why seek out those professionals if you know as much as they do?

Maybe that's what's wrong with the world. Everyone thinks they know everything about every single thing whether they have any true insight or not.

02 Dec 2010 12:31 AM

I don't understand why so many Pletcher haters. He gets the best horses because he can train. Owners with good horses come to him because they think he gives them the best chance to win. To the remark about sending Jackson to the Raptors in unnecessary. If the Miami Heat could get Jackson, they would do anything. If I had a horse that I wanted to succeed with a good pedigree, I would consider Pletcher. I would not go to a small barn. This would be the same in anything I do. If I can get the top doctor, lawyer or finance person to work for I so would do it. They are the best for a reason. It is not luck. They are skilled professionals. Pletcher is a skilled professional and he will keep on succeeding because of skill and hard work. Brethren is the real deal and Stay Thirsty will improve as he matures.


02 Dec 2010 12:55 AM


We all know you are a very bright guy but from time to time you post these over the top statements that are not consistent your brightness.

“Pletcher will break nearly every trainer record there is before he is done. His body of work speaks for itself and he is a class act to boot.”

How a person with your knowledge can make such statement is impossible to understand. You are a Journalist and emotions should not be involved in your writing. We require cold facts and measured opinions. Do you know the number of training records that are on the books? The majority will never be broken because things and times have changed. This is the reason what you are predicting is so unrealistic. Mr. Pletcher might very well establish a lot of new records but will never be able to break the majority of the existing ones. He has established one record that I believe will not be broken. Horses from his barn have finished last in three consecutive Kentucky Derbies.

You are quick to highlight the positives about his program but slow to highlight the negatives. Your trainer has a serious MIA problem with his program. Quality Road was the latest example.

There is a trainer that wins the most races each year. He has a lot of 2YO and my crystal ball tells me one of his charges will win the 2011derby. I would love for you to interview him as Todd P won the 2010 derby, he will not win the 2011. I would encourage you break of the love affair with the Todd’s program and broaden you scope.

02 Dec 2010 1:22 AM

Chris Y.,

One doesn't have to be involved with racing to have an educated opinion. I have never trained race horses, but I do know horses. I have had up to 85 horses in my barns and believe me, I know them all. I am absolutely hands on. I've spent entire nights walking a colicy horse. I've ripped off my own shirt to stop a horse from bleeding when he impaled himself in the chest with a tree branch. I've, countless times, fed the horses before driving an hour to work my shift @ 7am as an RN in a very busy ER. Being hands on had me in the barn feeding horses when I went into labor with my son.

So, while I am a huge racing fan & NOT in the racing business, I do know what it's like to be out there taking care of the horses in 0 degree temperature & 100 degrees as well as 9 months being pregnant AND in labor.

Please don't assume that fans opinions are "unbelieveable".

02 Dec 2010 1:31 AM


02 Dec 2010 4:11 AM

I have to concur with what folks like Rangulzion, 2:24, and others have written.

The way I look at it, for better of for worse Pletcher is the successor of D Wayne Lukas.  For me, this is mostly for the better.  I have always liked and respected D Wayne, although I recognize his flaws, and now Pletcher is following in Lukas' footprints, and threatening to break all his records.  By the time Pletcher is done, as with Lukas, the list of top horses he will have trained will be astonishing.

I agree that Pletcher is a good horsemen and this is the key reason why he is given so many good horses.  I could wear a suit also, but I don't think any owners would give me a horse to train; Pletcher has substance to back the style, just like Lukas did/does.  People point to the hundreds of horses Pletcher has, and try to make it seem that Pletcher's success is merely a by-product of sheer numbers.  However, these critics should keep in mind that it takes tremendous organizational skill, discipline, hard work through brutal hours, handicapping skill, as well as general horsemenship to successfully run such a large stable; the fact is that few people have the unique skill set to do what Pletcher does, and this is why there are not 50 other trainers with equally large operations.  

Something else Pletcher does is win big money races, something which gives owners a quicker return on their investments.  And by winning rich and prestigious races, particularly juvenile and 3 year old races, Pletcher , like Lukas, is an excellent developer of stallion/broodmare prospects, and that's where the real money is for owners.  In a game where it's so hard to stay above water, owners are going to be attracted to a trainer whose horses win early, win alot of money, and become valuable breeding prospects.

This is not to stay that Pletcher is perfect or that John Sherriffs is in any way his inferior.  Some of the critiques of Pletcher given be others are valid, and I must say that he is not one of my personal favorite trainers.  As for John Sherriffs, he is a wonderful trainer, and deserving of much respect.  I certainly respect Sherriffs as much as Pletcher, but I respect them in different ways because they do have such different styles and skill-sets.  While I admire the care and patience Sherriffs gives to his horses, I do understand that some owners will want immediate reslts on their investments, and that for them Pletcher will be preferable to the ultra-patient Sherriffs.  

02 Dec 2010 5:13 AM

As someone who has benefited from Pletcher's excellent training skills, all I can say is, "Thank you Todd"!  

02 Dec 2010 9:30 AM
Forbidden Apple

I think this blog got a little off course because not all of us who love horse racing are flattered by Pletcher's regime. Are we going to see an interview with another trainer about his/her 2011 prospects?

If I owned a horse it would be sent to a smaller more hands on trainer. On the east coast this year I was very impressed with the work of Tom Proctor and Al Stall. Pletcher's horses are trained for speed with concern about bullett workouts. The last I checked, an owner does not get paid any money for workouts. Pletcher won 3 B.C. races this year with 2 year old horses. He is great at running them into the ground at 2 and getting the quick money. I can not recall many horses that are around for him at 4 or 5, forget about a 6 year old like Zenyatta. He gets them to run well at 2 and 3 and that's it. His strength is in blue blod numbers and management. A 2 year old horse should be brought along slowly and given a proper chance to mature. Instead they are sent through numerous vigorous workouts/races and managed race to race by the vets with the best medication.

Chris Y,

I work on the backstretch with horse and stand by my opinions. This does not mean that I KNOW more than other fans who only watch this game from their couch. Why is it that Pletcher's horses only perform well at 2 and 3? He uses them up and spits them out because his wealthy owners have a continuous flow of blue bloods to replace the old models. English Channel is one of very few older horses that I can remember coming out of this regime. Can you explain his abundance of drug positives or the mysterious deaths of Left Bank and others? The DRF does not keep statistics on training older horses, drug positives, or breakdowns/early retirements. It's the owners and their $ that keep this game going and they are the ones supporting this type of training. This wonderful sport of horse racing needs more older horses to stick around, like Zenyatta in 2010 and Goldikova/Gio Ponti in 2011.

Uncle Mo is good, but far from great. He should win a prep race or 2 next year, and that's it. As of now I don't consider him a 1 1/4 KY Derby horse. Why are people surprised that he might only have 2 prep races? He will be so over worked in the mornings, that he only has enough left in the tank for 2 preps.

Out of the horses mentioned in this interview, I was most impressed with Pluck and More Than Real. Since they are grass horses, they will get less press and attention in 2011.


You might want to rethink your inclusion of Linda Rice as a smaller outfit. I do not know exactly how many she has in training, but her numbers are growing rapidly. If you get a chance, walk by her barn and take a look at her workers and the amount of garbage and messiness all around. She has one of the most ghetto looking stable areas I have ever seen.

On a more positve note, I would love to see Zenyatta in foal to Einstein. Both horses have unique bloodlines and were incredible runners. I see Einstein having an extremely bright future as a stallion. That is if breeders/owners are not afraid to give him a chance to prove it. Do we really need another overflow of A.P. Indy or Unbridled Song babies every year?

02 Dec 2010 9:36 AM

TomFV- If I said that I knew more than Mr Pletcher and criticized his training I would be arrogant.  I did not say anything like that.  You may think me arrogant if you wish.  That is your choice.  As far as knowledge, there are people who have so much knowledge about so many things even though they are not in that field.  I had a physics teacher in high school who was consulted all the time by major physicists because of his knowledge.  He had stress anxiety so he couldn't work at NASA or Fermi Lab or other major facilities.  But he had enough knowledge and respect to be consulted by the highest level of physicists.  He did not have a Masters nor a PHD.  There are many folk doctors who have learned their skills without medical training and can tell you more about medicines that the doctors can because they know about the plants that produced the compounds that became the medicines.  There are people living in rural areas who treat their animals successfully every day because they do what has been passed down to them for generations.  I know a 25 yr old who has discourses with Imams and Yogis around the world about Islam and Hinduism and has impressed them with his thorough knowledge and ability to reason and extrapolate about each religion.  He is neither Muslim nor Hindu.  They are dumfounded when they learn that he is a 25 yr old white man who has no connection to either religion other than an interest in learning all that he can learn about them.  Learning and acquiring knowledge is not something that is limited to working in that profession.   Especially now with the internet.  People in all walks of life will astonish you as to what they know about things.  That is all I meant.  You cannot ignore somebody's knowledge or opinion simply by saying they are not in the industry.  As I said, if that makes me arrogant in your eyes then it does.  I said nothing bad nor derogatory about Mr Pletcher.  I said he gets results.  I said he does what he is supposed to do.  I said in my opinion numbers alone does not make him legendary or one of the all-time greats. We all have opinions and we are expressing them.  Your last statement in your post could certainly apply to everyone.  Do you know who everybody is on this blog?  Anybody can come on the blog and say they are in the industry.  And there are many incompetent people in every industry and you see it everyday in every walk of life.  Do you have an opinion on politics?  On the economy?  On war? On a bad football game?   Would somebody be able to say to you that you don't know anything because you aren't personally involved in that field?  Does that invalidate your opinion in your eyes?  Just wondering.

02 Dec 2010 9:58 AM

Jason -

Bret Calhoun is also winning at 25% and he is 58% ITM.  He won 2 breeder's cup races (the only 2 he entered).  Pletcher won 3, but 1 of those horses has since been taken away.  Why not talk about Bret Calhoun?  I certainly would rather hear about him.

02 Dec 2010 11:13 AM
Tom FV

Sure I have opinions about things I'm not involved in. I just choose to discuss them with people I know and not publish them on a blog like I'm an expert in the field.

My examples are random. That's an age old argument about holistic vs modern medicine or pharmacists vs the village medicine man.

You can seek your care where you wish. Strange though, look at Third World countries vs developed countries.....

My comment to you was in direct response to this: "It seems like people on both sides think they know everything.  As we have seen in many other sports, just because you are involved in it doesn't mean you know more about it."

I can just reiterate what I said. Because, with the amount of investment involved, if you don't know at least a tad more about it than people not involved you won't last long. Really now, do you think the average guy off the street could come in and know more than people who have been involved intimately for decades? People arguing with someone like Ian who actually has worked for Todd? Or others who have had horses with either him or Wayne?

The age old argument about IF people know it inside out why aren't they doing it? Unable to deal with the stress etc? THAT is a big part of being successful in any profession.

Industries and professions are different even if they have similarities and no amount of rationalization can morph them into the same thing.

Collette, you're preaching to the choir but it still isn't the same situation. Different stressors and expectations entirely.

02 Dec 2010 11:39 AM
Mike Relva


Do you really believe what you post?

02 Dec 2010 11:52 AM


Thanks for the interview and the information on TP 2yo's.  Looking forward to other articles/interviews with other trainers and their 2yo's as we start to gear up for the Derby.  

Todd Pletcher and his stable helped me (with a lot of Luck) win the contest this year and I'm looking for any helpful information for the 2011 contest.  I'm also looking for another winning 4 horse exacta box for the 2011 Derby.

 Thanks again for the articles and keep them coming.

Ted from LA,

I like the way you started off this blog.  I wish more bloggers would stick to "who do you like" for the Derby.  One horse you missed that could challenge Uncle Mo is:

 Panther Pilsner (Curlin-Porcupine by Moe than Ready).  He's won the PressPressPull Stakes and looks like a real sleeper.

C'mon folks, lighten up!

02 Dec 2010 1:00 PM
Pam S.

Gun Bow,

As a further reason why prominent owners flock to Pletcher, you hit the nail on the head:  Winning big races early and making the horse a valuable stallion or broodmare prospect early.  Desire to have a starter in the Derby is a big factor (I'm sure it gets Bob Baffets a lot of sharp 2yo prospects as well), but when the Derby is over, win or lose, the owner might have a marketable stallion based on, say, a Florida Derby win.  Knowing they have some guaranteed income, at least for a while, keeps these owners in the game.  So the business implications of early success are hugely important, and combined with the "Derby magic" it's all very seductive, I'm sure.

I'm just hoping that Uncle Mo or To Honor and Serve or whoever turns out to be the hottest colt in early 2011, actually does make it to the Derby this year.

02 Dec 2010 1:04 PM

"Dani, you and a lot of others condemn these people based on what you read and what you hear. Most of it is just hearsay or opinions.

I think I read once where someone said if reading about something, listening to TV programs could make someone an expert why don't we all become brain surgeons that way?

Fans who don't get up at 3 or 4 every morning, work in the cold and the heat, spend time away from their families and/or lay waste to their personal relationships for the sake of their profession don't have a clue.

Like Ian says, stuff happens and anyone with experience with horses knows it isn't that something may happen it's that it WILL happen.

If the high priced horses won every race, if the same trainer won the Derby every year because he has the best prospect there wouldn't be any point in running them. You try to figure out who is the best prospect, keep them out of your stock or buy them at the sale and then do your best with them. It's skill, talent and no small part LUCK.

I just can't get over how the people who never trained a race horse are such experts who think they should be listened to over the people who have done this their whole lives. Amazingly unbelievable.

Chris Y 01 Dec 2010 8:53 PM "

ROTFLMAO---horses are ANIMALS...there r very few people that aren't smarter than the majority of them. If you have trained a cat or dog you can train a horse if you want to. How else do you explain digiturf(TM)? Not every1 wants to wake up at 3am to walk or ride or feed horses...doesn't mean they couldn't.

02 Dec 2010 1:05 PM
Jason Shandler

SGunne: Feel free to talk about Bret Calhoun on your blog.

02 Dec 2010 1:32 PM
Chris Y

Why don't you do it if it's so simple. After you do it then tell us all about it. It's much more than just 'training' a horse. There's a million things involved in being a race horse trainer.

Plus horses don't always do what you want, they aren't a dog or a cat. If they have a meltdown it's no where near the same thing.

Try disciplining one the same way. If a cat or a dog kicks or steps on you it doesn't have the same result.

Sure it's so easy to say you can do something but the proof is in the pudding.

Yes Jason why don't all of these famous turf writers write about what they want to write about and let you write about the subjects you choose?

I like Bret but come on people.

I don't always agree with you Jason but some of these people are unreal.

02 Dec 2010 1:53 PM

Mike Relva,

Every word.

More than 6 month ago I warned you and other Zen' fans that Shirreffs should have run her in the HGCP or the Pacific Classic to improve his chances for the HOTY award, and you were among the ones who said Shirreffs knew what he was doing, because his main goal was to have a fresh horse for the BCC. Well, he did not give himself and his champion mare room for error; he never trained her under the lights at CD, never ran or breezed her over that track, and never tested her in 2010. He lost the BCC, and now finds himself in a too familiar spot, once again hoping that her mare's popularity would swing Eclipse voters, instead of clinching the award by facing & defeating males on the track more than once, the way Goldikova did it in Europe this year, or the way Rachel did last year, especially since this was going to be Zenyatta's last year in training anyway.

By the way, I believe every word I wrote here too. The only thing I find hard to believe is how a top horseman & trainer can manage to lose the HOTY award 3 years in a row, with a horse of a lifetime such as Zenyatta....

02 Dec 2010 2:25 PM
Pam S.

Whoops, meant Bob Baffert on my post above.  You were all probably wondering, who the heck is that trainer and who are his sharp prospects?

02 Dec 2010 2:40 PM

Tom FV: I started hot-walking at 11...not as young as 7, but still...LOL! (for FREE, too)

TP's had a lot of good ones..

I still think of Left Bank, such a good sad. What a great horse.

If you know me, then you know Rags is one of my all time favorite racehorses and the most beautiful filly ever...very happy she survived that last race.

I was crazy about Wait a While, too, just loved her and I was very happy English Channel retired sound and on top!

I hope Discreetly Mine makes it back OK...he'll be a lot of fun to watch.

02 Dec 2010 3:05 PM

I think Lukas had the last filly to win the Santa Anita Derby as well as the Kentucky Derby.  Enough said.  And I could go on and on about Lady's Secret's campaign.  

02 Dec 2010 5:44 PM

The problems in Third World countries are far to complex to break it down to Holistic vs Modern medicine.  But that is a different discussion entirely.  I don't feel I or many others here are average joe's when discussing horse racing, but I am not in the business and since it seems to rankle with many who are in the business, I have no problem refraining from giving my opinions about trainers or about training horses.  I'll defer to the "experts".

02 Dec 2010 6:10 PM

I think LAZ already posted exactly what I was thinking about this Pletcher thing.  If the eclipse for best trainer is best solely on win percentage and money won, then Pletcher and Asmussen are pretty much the only candidates year and year out.  These trainers while they are great, are operating with people who actually deal with horses.  They probably deal with horses who are the best and popular horses...i.e., Uncle Mo.  

Case in point, does anyone remember Pletcher hyping Super Saver before the KY ?  Unless someone asks him about it...he wasn't really touting SS.  After he wins, it's all he talks about.  Having that many horses in your stable makes you a manager, not a trainer.  IMO, a trainer is someone who knows the horses characteristics, they are close to the horses whether the horse is good or not.

I don't know Pletcher personally but I also don't believe he shouldn't have the eclipse "locked" but I guess that depends on the voters perception of a "trainer".

Livesoutwest : It's easy to get carried away with the hype on Pletcher and Asmussen.  Having thousands of horses and mostly top caliber young horses given to you doesn't make you a great trainer.  Sure, he put himself in that position by actually training horses and spending time with them when he was first starting, combined with carrying Lukas' name, it wasn't hard for him to get the good horses from the top owners.  The fact that he was able to carry on and be successful after going on his own is what makes him a great trainer.  It's NOT that he has all these top caliber horses, anyone can train Uncle Mo, he's already a good horse, possibly a freak but just like this year, the horse he wasn't so high on, won the derby for him.

02 Dec 2010 7:59 PM

Forbidden Apple : I totally agree with your assessment of Uncle Mo and More Than Real.  When UM won the breeders cup, everyone pretty much locked him up for the Derby.  I don't think he's a 10F horse.  The thing is, there's not much 10F colts out there either.  If he wins the derby, it will be because of lack of competition in my opinion.

I'll be following More Than Real as much as I can.

02 Dec 2010 8:03 PM
Ted from LA

Is Bob Baffets the gray haired trainer with the dark sunglasses?  Don't worry Pam S., to air is human.

02 Dec 2010 9:05 PM


I see that you're resorting to a crystal ball to select the 2011 kentucky derby winner, by your own admission.  That kind of hocus pocus handicapping will not work my friend.  Todd Pletcher could make it 2 Kentucky derbys in a row.  Please dont give up on taking your "cold facts" medicine and dont bother hitting your head against a wall trying to beat Uncle Mo.  

The 2011 Triple crown series could become quite boring if Uncle Mo improves on his 2YO form.  Right now there are only a handfull of challengers and they will have to make significant improvement to catch up.  You can forget about any unseasoned 2YO showing up as a 3YO without foundation trying to upset "Mo".  It will take one or two with 2YO foundation, good pedigree, heart of a champion and extraordinary talent to lower "Mo's" colours in 2011.  I'm keeping an eye on Santivo, Sweet Duckie, Gourmet Dinner, Reprized Halo, To Honor and Serve, Mucho Macho Man and Premier Pegasus.  I'll also be interested in seeing what Nick Zito comes up with in 2011 but if they haven't showed up yet it will have to be the Mid-summer races unless "Mo" gets sidelined.  I've omitted Boys at Toscanova because I'm convinced that he will not be a 10 furlongs type horse.  

02 Dec 2010 9:14 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for reminding me what I've stated. I view individuals like yourself as always w/ an axe to grind. Don't hear you giving props to connections to know how to manage and keep her healthy for three yrs. Too bad RA's connections had to use her up wasn't it? Perhaps you should've consulted with Zenyatta's connections by offering your valuable advice! lol

02 Dec 2010 9:54 PM


If you actually believe what you say, then why must you keep repeating yourself?  If it's the gadfly thing to get the blog going, I hope you're paid for your efforts.  

I was glad to see T.P.'s More Than Ready duo win, but I was very unhappy that Life at Ten was allowed to start.  I do not blame the jockey or trainer.  Economics is a powerful master.  Too bad I bet and left the OTB.  I couldn't do a thing about my tickets.  

03 Dec 2010 2:25 AM


Let us hope that Uncle Mo stays fit in 2011, because of the horses that raced this year only one, Harbinger, will qualify for the Timeform All-Time Highweights list. This means that at least for one more year the term "great" in thoroughbreds, is reserved for the truly great, not the very good.

Horses that failed to make the cut include Goldikova, Workforce and all US-based horses.

Maybe Uncle Mo can do something about it. America needs a great racehorse.

Good luck to the Pletcher gang. Thank you Todd for making 2010 a year I will always remember. It was my best ever.

03 Dec 2010 8:01 AM

I like Uncle Mo plus numerous other 2 year-olds who are rising stars.  But I haven't put all my hopes on a single 2 year-old since Vindication didn't make it to the Derby. (I had him pegged as the next TC winner).  A lot of folks seem to doubt Uncle Mo's ability to get the distance because of his breeding.  

Once upon a time, the same doubts were voiced about another 2 year-old.  That colt won the Triple Crown including the 12f Belmont by 31 lengths in 1973.

So far, Uncle Mo has been a stand out.  I'm hoping Pletcher does well with him...but no one will really know until May.  My hopes, however, are riding with Bernardini's crop.  He has some awesome 2 year-olds in the US and the UK.

The most promising 2 year old last year was Buddy's Saint...and he will be missed.  Then there rose Eskendereya..oh well.  

03 Dec 2010 8:54 AM

Jay Jay,

Pletcher was wearing a Super Saver cap all week leading up to the Kentucky Derby.  Pletcher and Winstar had their eyes on the prize from the minute he won the KY Jockey Cup.  They wanted to win the KY Derby not the Tampa Derby or the Ark Derby.  Those were strictly prep races to teach Super Saver to rate off the pace and get in shape.  Watch what they do with Brethren!

03 Dec 2010 9:37 AM

My thoughts exactly Jayjay.

A loaded gun can go off in anyone's hand.

03 Dec 2010 11:48 AM

"WANDA" is too right. But, unfortunately, it's the writers who vote, not the racing fans/bettors. That's why Zenyatta got robbed last year.

03 Dec 2010 12:46 PM

Come on LEON!  No one beat Zenyatta but herself and perhaps her jockey (by his own admission).  Had nothing to do with lights.  Based on her running style, off the top of my head I can count 4 other times she should have lost and manage to hang her nose on the wire. As priceless as she was she also had some bad habits (e.g, full shadow roll, ears stuffed with cotton, liked to gawk a bit, needed a target to run at).  I'm with Revla...36 months of Grade 1 form speaks for itself as far at training jobs, not only for spotting talent in a horse no one wanted to buy, but for coming off as much as a 7 month lay off to beat the future Breeder's Cup Ladies Classic winner who owned the Santa Anita winter meet in Zen's absense.   That is certainly something RA could not do.  

03 Dec 2010 1:33 PM

Pletcher was not hyping Super Saver because he was too busy talking up Devil May Care who belonged in the Oaks.  

03 Dec 2010 1:35 PM

A win over Richard's Kid in the Pacific Classic gets Zenyatta HOY? I don't see it. The East would have said that was a weak field.  The Usual QT had no business on synthetics, Dakota Phone went to the Breeder's Cup mile not the Classic etc. etc.

03 Dec 2010 1:45 PM

Pletcher also spent some time talking up Quality Road prior to the Classic.  Seems he thought Zenyatta would have a lot more difficulty chasing him down than she did Switch. "He's no Switch." Bet he wished he could take those words back.  2 Breeder's Cup Classic "No Shows" on a very tallented colt. Hope everyone cashed their Breeder's Cup tickets on Switch.  I did.  

03 Dec 2010 1:54 PM

This is certainly and opinionated group! I can remember eons ago when racing discussion boards started in the old Prodigy days. Those days it was de rigueur to slam Pletcher's old boss - Lukas. It's a good thing there are so many different trainers with different methods or horse racing would truly suffer.

The 2-year-old I'm looking forward to seeing as a 3-year-old...Wine Police.

03 Dec 2010 2:05 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks! Some that fancy themselves "in the loop" can't connect the dots that to keep a horse healthy for 3 yrs and almost retire undefeated is no small task. Guess Jerkins,Shug,Baffert and many many others' that praise Zenyatta know nothing compared to some "experts" on this blog. lol

03 Dec 2010 4:00 PM
Billy's Empire

Chris Y

"There are people bringing up trainers and their percentages who have NOTHING to do with this discussion. What does that have to do with this subject?"

I know you were referring to me. Good afternoon. I was just giving a few "facts" about why John Sheriff's should NOT win any award for trainer of the year. Sorry that was too hard for you to comprehend. Give the award to Rudy Rodriguez, Chad Brown, Bret Calhoun, Tom Proctor, John Sadler, Hollendorfer, any one of these trainer before Sherriff's.

03 Dec 2010 4:53 PM
Mike Relva


You live in the fantasy of somehow convincing yourself your knowledge exceeds almost everyone,including those that's REALLY CONNECTED with racing. Whatever gets you thru the day,I guess!

03 Dec 2010 5:45 PM
Forbidden Apple


I agree with most of what your opinion expresses. Although I find fault with your assumption that a female horse must beat males to be considered HOY. I have written many times that fillies and mares run for less money and get less respect than males. I have also written that turf horses get the same sort of shaft when they are evaluated. This sport has no real criteria for HOY voting, it's mainly based on opinion. Yes, Zenyatta did lose by a head to Blame, but I did view a photo of her in front of Blame just past the wire. Based on one race, I can not say that Blame was a better horse than Zenyatta.


Please do not start acting like Uncle Mo is the next triple crown winner and one of the greatest horses of all time. You get caught up emotionally with every Pletcher horse in training. There are many soon to be 3 year old horses of high quality and ability. Did you read my earlier post on this blog? I look forward to many bullett workouts coming out of the Pletcher regime in the coming months.


Be patient my friend, the 2011 KY Derby preps are nearing and I expect many new names to hit the radar soon. I myself don't put a tremendous amount of merit into a horses 2 year old campaign. I was very impressed by More Than Real and also Winter Memories late finish in the B.C. juvenile f. turf.

03 Dec 2010 6:38 PM
Chris Y

Which would have been fine if you had referenced THOSE people. We know who you have a thing against.

Not that your opinion really matters that much.

LOL yes please give me the facts.

03 Dec 2010 7:18 PM

Forbidden Apple.  Probably the best turf miler this county has ever seen...LURE.  No HOY for him.  

03 Dec 2010 7:43 PM

Mike Relva,

I did not know the HOTY award was supposed to go to the horse that was kept healthy for 3 yrs and almost retired undefeated. Thanks for "enlightning" me.


Bias, schmias. I bet even Jason  would have been praising them left and right had Zen's connections won any of the SoCal G1's vs males in 2010, and so would I.

C'mon guys, the message was sent to them loud & clear in last year's voting...

03 Dec 2010 8:11 PM

Mike Relva,

Every post you seem need to insult and rip somebody  -- so angry all the time!  Wonder what you are missing in your life?  How about sticking to observations without nastiness?

03 Dec 2010 8:54 PM
Mike Relva


You know,the door swings both ways. I've read several of your posts where you slam certain connections and a certain horse and readers. Am I wrong? FYI,I'm not missing anything in my life, quite the opposite.

03 Dec 2010 9:20 PM
Forbidden Apple


I agree with you, Lure was brilliant, I was also a big fan of Paradise Creek and Da Hoss. It seems like a series of turf races with a bonus at the end of the 3 race series is in order. The triple crown races are entertaining, why not give us turf fans something to follow. I also believe more breeders and owners would consider turf sires and mares when developing their business plans if turf purses were increased. The B.C. Classic is $5 million and the B.C. Turf is $3 million.

Does anyone else have an opinion on Einstein breeding with Zenyatta?

04 Dec 2010 8:29 AM


It is always a pleasure to match strides with you. I see your love affair with the Pletcher program continues. What exactly is his derby record that you are so proud of? I vaguely recall one win, two seconds from about 30 starters or more. Are you aware that some trainers are one from one? In the 2008 Derby the great one had 25% of the field and didn’t make the board. I highlight theses cold facts because you seem to give all the credit to the great one and have forgotten that horses make trainers and a lot of good horses have been ruined by trainers, the great one not excluded. The great one started four in 2010 and one hit the board.  I still consider his fortune to be due to Ice Box’s misfortune. You mentioned subsequent to the derby that SS was a late improving sort who potentially could win the Triple Crown. I believe his best finish in a post derby race was 4th. He like many others from the Pletcher program was gone before his names could be remembers. The greatness that you have bestowed on MR. Pletcher is not validated by the number of wins to starters in the three most important races in a calendar year. Compare his record to Speedy Bob from CA and see who is greater in the big ones.

“You can forget about any unseasoned 2YO showing up as a 3YO without foundation trying to upset Mo”

By what measure have you made this determination? I provided you with a summary of the BCJ winner from CD and their placing in the derby. Street Sense was more impressive than Uncle Mo and he ended up wining one leg of the TC by a mere 2 lengths. Uncle Mo gallops like a grey hound when let down and that type of action could lead to shoulder problems in the long term. I will not be loosing any sleep over beating Uncle Mo as he is not the one for the 2011 derby. His immediate pedigree is nowhere on the derby chart and that chart does not admit intruders. Ask the brilliant fast Holy Bull?

On the subject of improvement, Mr. Pletcher 2YOs seems to come to hand much faster than those of other trainers. Are they placed on a fast path program? Super Saver’s brother ran 1:08.08 for 6F that was faster that the 1:09 recorded by Uncle Mo on his debut. Neither of those colts will win the 2011 derby as it is unlikely that they will improve significantly as 3YOs. They are already recording times consistent with older horses.

You mentioned To Honor and Serve a colt I think has the pedigree to be a top player in 2011. The Bold Ruler sire line is overdue for a derby win and this colt is from that line. Ice box came close to restoring honor to this line in 2010 and THAS is bred along the same cross. I think one of A P Indy’s sons or grandsons will be the sire of the 2011 derby winner.  There will be no intruders as the derby chart rarely allows access to lines that are not represented.

04 Dec 2010 9:18 AM

Forbidden Apple,

History has taught us that broodmares like Zenyatta do not produce champions. Check the entire list of great champion female that came off the track and you will realize that Zenyatt's prospect as a great broodmare is remote. It really does not matter to whom she is bred. The best broodmare are those unraced or lightly raced.

04 Dec 2010 9:37 AM

Coldfacts - Personal Ensign was a great broodmare.

04 Dec 2010 11:24 AM
Mike Relva


Since you are always gaga over everything Pletcher does I'll make you a wager. The same one that I lost to you this year. If ANY of his horses wins the Derby next yr. will take another three months exile from this blog ONLY. But,this time You have to follow suit in the event I win. It's only fair you put something up this time around. BTW,if I owned a hundred horses and he would train them free,I still wouldn't use him.

04 Dec 2010 6:22 PM

Jason: Little off subject of blog. Just some info.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.– Gourmet Dinner is likely to make his next start in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18. The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity could be the first of several starts for the multiple stakes winner in Southern California this winter, trainer Steve Standridge said.

Gourmet Dinner won the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Nov. 20 and is currently based with Standridge at Calder Race Course in Miami. Standridge said Gourmet Dinner is scheduled to have a workout on Friday, which will determine whether the colt is sent to California.

04 Dec 2010 6:58 PM



The CashCall Futurity is likely to have a large field. The list of candidates includes Comma to the Top, who won the Generous here on Nov. 27; Premier Pegasus and Industry Leader, the first two finishers in the Hollywood Prevue on Nov. 20; J P’s Gusto, who won the Del Mar Futurity and three other sprint stakes during the summer; as well as Rustler Hustler, Clubhouse Ride, High Level Jeff, Boxeur des Rues, and possibly Slammer Time, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile.

04 Dec 2010 7:02 PM
Forbidden Apple


When you use the word best, that is only an opinion, not a fact. According to your logic, Zenyatta should not be bred at all. I believe it does matter when choosing a mate for her and that she will be a fine broodmare(my opinion). I know that breeding a champion to a champion does not equal another champion. My point was that both Zenyatta and Einstein have somewhat unique pedigrees and that their offspring would be a pleasant combination. The idea of breeding her to A.P. Indy or Unbrideled Song would be uneventful to me.


Industry Leader was crying out for more distance in the Hollywood Prevue last out.  I'll be looking for him in the winner's circle this time. Also look out for  Alcindor in his next start, a very impressive winner last time out (even though he's an Unbridled Song colt). I believe he is being pointed to the Malibu.

05 Dec 2010 7:57 AM


I do not recall the champions she has produced but I have no doubt  about the correctness of your claim. What I am sure of is she did not foal the winner of a Triple Crown race.

These brillinat mares rarely produce the winners of TC races. Could Zenyatta be another Urban Sea? (Arc winner and Broodmare of the Year in England and Ireland, 2001; dam of the brilliant Sea The Star & Galileo) It's possible but I doubt it as our pre race medication policy does not favor mares that spend long periods on the track.

He are two  questions for you. When was the last time a Kentucky Oaks winner produced The winner of a TC race? When was the last time a G1 winning mare produce a derby winner?

You are going to be surprised at the end of you research.

05 Dec 2010 9:28 AM

Forbidden Apple:

Out of the Cash Call Futurity possibles listed. These are the horses that might want to run a 1 1/4 at Kentucky Derby time.

Premier Pegasus

Clubhouse Ride

Rustler Hustler

Boxeur des Rues

Alcindor looks interesting,but just can't excited about Unbridled

Song's past a 1 1/8 early in their career. Not saying they can't go 1 1/4.

05 Dec 2010 7:02 PM
Billy's Empire

Chris Y. facts

16% winning percentage without Zenyatta

12 winners on the year, without Zenyatta.

Least amount of wins in top 90 trainers in country.

I could go on, but why. Give him the Eclipse award. Then team Z might win something and shut everyone up.

06 Dec 2010 11:47 AM
Chris Y

Billy Go back and read your original irrelevant post. THAT is my point of reference.

Lets say that John has the least amount of wins but also the least amount of starters?

You could quote percentages on ANY trainer without the top horses in their barn to make a point, anybody could do so for their favorite.

I never said anything about John winning it, maybe you should reference what I commented on about the negative remarks regarding Todd?

Actually though Jason, I remember a horse who won the BC Classic, then didn't win the HOY. I also remember a trainer who was the leading trainer and had the HOY who didn't win the Trainer of the Year so I guess you can never say never.

06 Dec 2010 5:21 PM

Jason: additional possible's for CashCall Futurity.

Riveting Reason

Joy Boy

Road Ready

Crimson China

Awesome Patriot

Prayer For Relief

06 Dec 2010 7:01 PM
Billy's Empire

my post was in response to someone else's post that said Zenyatta and sherriff's should both win an eclipse award. I was just showing them why he should not and compared his percentage to some of the other's in training as a reference point. You ever heard of a benchmark?

07 Dec 2010 12:10 PM
Mike Relva


AFLEETALEXFOREVER only platform is a hatred for a horse that's a game changer. It's the same junk in every post. Tell me I'm wrong on this?

07 Dec 2010 5:16 PM
Chris Y

Huh, no that prestigious U where I earned my degree doesn't understand benchmarks so they don't teach that.

Too bad they just teach statistical probabilities, the law of averages and concepts based in reality.

What does the percentage of trainers who aren't even in the running for Trainer of the Year have to do with your argument against John? More specifically what does Wayne or Bill's % now or even historically have to do with anything?

I'm not even suggesting that John should win it. I obviously prefer Todd.  But to change historical data to say what if, face it you cannot take Zenyatta out of the equation because she is the major factor IN the equation. Sure he has had the least number of winners but he's had the lowest number of starters by more than HALF, 80 total.  

What I dislike is people presenting arguments, slanting them and continuously trying to act like they have a particular insight when what they have is a particular prejudicial feeling towards certain trainers.

Forbidden Apple you're another who has made some so-called inside comments that have been proven incorrect and call into question your experience on the backside.

You say because you supposedly work on the backside that doesn't mean you know more than fans but then launch an attack on people who really are in the game and the fans as well. Okay if you say so.

You say you work with "horse" on the backside?

07 Dec 2010 8:09 PM
Forbidden Apple

Chris y,

Please tell me what I have written that is completely incorrect. Can you list some older horses that Pletcher has trained in the last 10 years besides English Channel?Of course I meant horses. Have you ever made a mistake while typing? Just accept that not everyone in this world is impressed by every move team Pletcher makes.

08 Dec 2010 7:38 PM

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