Derby Drought

One of these years it's gonna happen.

And it's gonna be sooner than later. The law of averages says so.

What am I talking about? The Kentucky Derby drought that has followed three of the best trainers in the world - Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen. Though between them they have more than $420 million in purse money and nearly 10,000 wins, the dynamic trio is a combined 0-for-30 on Derby day. Somehow, that doesn't seem possible.

This year, with each of them having top-notch contenders, there is a very good chance that the drought will finally end - at least for one of them.

Mott has done everything there is in the sport except win on racing's biggest day. The New York resident has won multiple training titles at the best racetracks on the East Coast, has won more races at Churchill Downs than anyone else, is third in all-time earnings, has had success at the Breeders' Cup, and trained Cigar, perhaps the best horse in the last 25 years. But he is 0-for-4 in the Derby, with Favorite Trick (8th in 1998) being his best finish, and has not had a starter since Blue Burner in 2002.

That will change this year, as Mott, who had a huge year in 2007, finally has a barn full of young stars. In all, he has five 3-year-olds hot on the Derby Trail, including Remsen winner Court Vision, Majestic Warrior and Z Humor, who all took action in Pool 1 of the Future Wager. How many will ultimately make it to the starting gate May 3 is still unknown, but one thing is for sure: Mott is long overdue, even for someone who is best known for his work with older horses.

Pletcher has not been around as long as Mott, but talk about overdue! Since 2000, Pletcher has saddled an amazing 19 Derby starters, but has never done better than third (Impeachment). Last year, with a record-tying five starters in the Derby, Pletcher was expected to break the jinx, but it never materialized. The man has owned the sport for the past half-decade, setting and then breaking his own records for stakes wins and earnings multiple times, and winning four consecutive Eclipse Awards. But still no Derby, and that will continue to dog him as long as he stays winless.

Rags to Riches' win in last year's Belmont had to be a load of Pletcher's back, as he finally got an elusive Triple Crown victory. Pletcher won't have five Derby starters in 2008, but so far he's got a pair of good-looking colts in Cowboy Cal and Monba. Is this his year?

Also with at least a pair of contenders is Asmussen, who may be next in line to dethrone Pletcher as the nation's top trainer. It's not as though Asmussen is desperate for a Derby right now, coming off Curlin's Horse of the Year campaign which included Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic wins. Nonetheless, the Texas native has had seven Derby starters without a victory, including a pair in each of the last two years.

With Pyro, whose breathtaking performance in the Risen Star made him the Pool 1 favorite, and Z Fortune, it looks as though Asmussen will be right back in the thick of things in 2008. But will he get the Derby monkey off his back?

Will any of them?

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