Ho-Hum, Pletcher Loaded Again

Over the past decade, it almost seems like a rite of passage that Todd Pletcher will dominate the Kentucky Derby preps. When making any Derby list, you have to start with Pletcher horses, and this year is no different.

In fact, as we sit here in early February, Pletcher's hand looks as strong as it ever has. He's always the first one to point out that winning races over the winter does not always translate to Derby success, but I bet you he wouldn't trade places with anyone. As we approach Round 2 of the Derby preps, Pletcher took a few moments to talk about his contenders and laid out a temporary plan for each of them. Here is the best of the current Todd Squad, listed by the geographical region that they are likely to race in next.

South Florida--Algorithms and Discreet Dancer: Algorithms romped in the Holy Bull and earned the right to stay in Florida. He will be pointed toward the Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth, along with Discreet Dancer, who will make his stakes debut after two ultra impressive wins at Gulfstream to begin his career. To many, Algoristhms seems like the more logical Derby horse because he is by Bernardini and isn't a need the lead type, but Pletcher has seen no indication that Discreet Dancer, by Discreet Cat, won't go longer, even though he is a front-running type of colt.

"Watching him train and watching his mile race the way he finished and galloped out, I'm pretty sure he'll handle more distance," Pletcher said of Discreet Dancer. "I think with most of them, getting a mile and a quarter is a little bit of a question mark, but nothing he's done nothing in any of his breezes or his two races that have indicated to us that he has any real distance limitations."

"The plan for Algorithms is still the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby."

Louisiana--El Padrino: Insiders seem to think that the son of Pulpit is Pletcher's top Derby threat. Not only does he have a solid classic pedigree, but he has the right running style and is a smart horse that has already shown the professionalism to handle a Triple Crown run. With only $20,000 of graded earnings so far (third in Remsen), money is the main objective for him right now, so Pletcher has made the decision to send him to the $300,000 Risen Star (gr. II) on Feb. 25. The race won't be easy, especially if Mr. Bowling and Z Dager show up, but it might be a better spot than the Fountain of Youth, as Pletcher points out.

"He's definitely made the top of the list. We've thought a lot of him all along. That (Jan. 29 optional claimer) was sort of the breakthrough performance from a professional and speed figure standpoint that we were looking for. It makes sense for him to go (to the Risen Star). We have to be aware of graded earnings. The Fountain of Youth will have horses like Algorithms, Discreet Dancer, Union Rags, and Hansen, so we're looking more along the lines of graded earnings."

New York--Dan and Sheila, Raconteur, and Big Blue Nation: With How Do I Win disappointing in the Withers, Pletcher's top 3-year-olds in New York right now are all a little bit of a question mark. Dan and Sheila, who ran fourth in the Lecomte after breaking his maiden in his debut, will be sent back up north. Raconteur, by A. P. Indy out of a Storm Cat mare, took six tries to win a race but did so at a mile and an eighth, and followed up with Feb. 3 optional claiming score--both at Aqueduct. Big Blue Nation, by Bluegrass Cat, will make his season debut in a Feb. 11 one-mile allowance race, and they will make plans with him after seeing how he runs. The colt was third in the Hopeful.

"We're looking at the Gotham for Dan and Sheila. We'll probably also run Raconteur, a Dogwood colt that won a ‘one other than' at Aqueduct. Big Blue Nation has been training well. He gives us the impression that he'll stretch out. We'll run him a mile to begin with and see how he does from there; maybe look for a two turn race after that. His Hopeful wasn't a bad a race on a horrible racetrack. We're looking forward to getting him started."

Central Florida/Arkansas--Gemologist: Undefeated in three starts including the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II), the WinStar colt just recently began light training again. He had his first work of the year on Sunday, an easy three furlongs in :39 4/5 at Palm Meadows. Pletcher said they want to follow the same schedule as they did with Super Saver from a few years ago.

"He came back to us 30 days ago and we got a month of galloping into him and his first breeze, so everything is going well so far. We're trying to follow same pattern as Super Saver, two preps before the Derby. What we're thinking about right now is the Tampa Bay Derby on March 10 or the Rebel on March 17."

New Mexico--Ender Knievel: It's rare that Pletcher will send a Derby prospect to Sunland Park, but that's what he's doing with this well-bred colt that many have yet to hear about. The son of Distorted Humor, out of an A. P. Indy mare, was recently purchased privately and sent to Pletcher. After losing his first three starts while trained by Rusty Arnold, including a Dec. 24 sprint at Gulfstream, Pletcher took control and the colt promptly won a one-mile maiden race over the same track by 7 3/4 lengths.

"That was first time we've run him. He came to us in good shape; he's a pretty straightforward horse and he obviously ran well. The connections are from New Mexico, so the Sunland Derby makes sense for him."

Pletcher also has a couple others that he will give a chance on the Derby trail, including Our Entourage, who will run next on turf but may get another chance on dirt after that, and Declaration of War, a War Front colt recently transferred to him a Coolmore group after a couple of impressive wins in Europe. Plans for those two will be decided in the near future.

"We've been blessed with having a good fall and early winter. Horses are stepping up in heading in right direction. We're happy to be in the position we're in. We have a number of horses that are on their way to a number of different prep races that could move on them to next round."


Leave a Comment:


Spring Hill Farm? Any mention? thoughts?

07 Feb 2012 2:25 PM

Pletcher has plenty of bullets in the chamber. The only problem is that he doesn't know how to make them count. His horses may be worth consideration in some of the minor prep races, but when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, forget about it. He knows nothing about preparing for a peak effort when it matters. Pletcher has been given every opportunity to win the Derby and he could only do it once with a fluke. The guy somehow kept his license after the LAT fiasco, which makes no sense, and he mismanaged what could have been a very nice racehorse in Uncle Mo. I'm truly thankful we have real horsemen like Bob Baffert in California. He understands that there's more to training than strength in numbers.

07 Feb 2012 3:10 PM
Jason Shandler

Steve: You show more and more every day that you know nothing about racing. Thanks for your comedy, as always. Go follow pro wrestling.

07 Feb 2012 3:35 PM
steve from st louis

I wish they had a future book wager  by sires. I'll take the Bernardinis with a saver on the Smart Strikes.

07 Feb 2012 3:41 PM

An impressive list of horses for sure.  I have my eye on El Padrino.  His last race was visually impressive and the way he ran by another good colt like he was standing still was impressive.  Looks like he aint scared of running inside either.  Although, he is a Pulpit so we'll have to see how he acts on the bigger stage.

07 Feb 2012 3:54 PM

Jason, his record in the Derby speaks for itself. When's the last time you were in the green on THS? Feels like it's been a while! By all means, continue betting Pletcher horses in the big races. I'll be laughing all the way to bank. Oh, thanks again for betting Uncle Mo in the Classic!

07 Feb 2012 4:07 PM

Any news on if/when Overdriven will be back?

07 Feb 2012 4:21 PM
Rolling Thundar

Now, now, Jason. Steve is just stating his opinion and dislike for Pletcher. And how much he is a Baffert fan. But we all know that BB does understand that there is strength in numbers, and that is why he always seems to be loaded with plenty of talented young horses himself.

I for one thought that your article was very informitive, and that everyone who is any kind of handicapper, will find paying attention to the Pletcher barn, can always pay good little dividends. Especially in the Preps leading up to the Derby. Thanks again Jason, for keeping us informed about horses that are training well. And I'm sure the article you do on Bafferts army of sophmores will be just as enlightening.

07 Feb 2012 4:27 PM
Bob from Boston

If a horse named Dan and Sheila ever wins the Kentucky Derby, I will never buy another mint julep glass as long as Ted from LA lives.

07 Feb 2012 4:35 PM
Jason Shandler

He had 43 graded winners in 2011. How's that for big races? Keep betting against him please. Thanks in advance.

07 Feb 2012 4:45 PM
Age of Reason


Yes and no. Pletcher's win with Super Saver was certainly no fluke; I doubt anyone coulda/shoulda/woulda went by him that day. Only Street Sense was a better horse for the course (at least in recent memory). The other half of your argument is too true, though. 1 for 29 with 3-5 starters in most given years certainly does raise questions. We shall see!...

07 Feb 2012 4:52 PM
Jason Shandler

By the time he's done his career he'll have three or four Derby wins and people like Steve will still be saying dumb stuff like: 'Yeah, but his win percentage in the Derby is blah blah blah'. Meanwhile, he'll have broken virtually ever training record out there and we will all be thankful that we have bloggers like this to laugh at on a regular basis.

07 Feb 2012 4:58 PM

Pletcher has learned his lesson by listening to owners who wanted to skip the Florida Derby; both horses were shipped to NY for the derby preps after the Fountain of Youth. Eskendereya had an injury and had to retire and Uncle Mo became ill.

I think the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby will be the true test of champions looking to win the Derby this year. Union Rags will be joining the frey. Hopefully, Discreet Dancer will recover soon and will be joining them. The resounding winners of the Fountain of Youth include Barbaro, Big Brown, Eskenderaya, and Quality Road. Barbaro and Big Brown then won the Fla Derby.

Hopefully, the Fla Derby will be the prominent event is was.

07 Feb 2012 5:13 PM

Pletcher looks like he has some colts with a pedigree to run well at 10f for the first time I can remember so it will be interesting to see how he does this year.  Any word on Spring Hill Farm?  Love his pedigree, Smart Strike - Colonial Minstrel (Shuvee winner).  Also did you get a chance to ask what is happening with Mr. Besilu?

07 Feb 2012 5:24 PM

3 or 4 Derby wins? You really are living in a dream world. Baffert will have won 10 by that time. Yes Jason, he had 43 graded stakes winners. That goes with the territory with all the nice horses Pletcher gets. He acquires good horses, he doesn't develop them. He even admitted thinking that Life At Ten was tying up before the BC Distaff, but let her run anyway. What kind of horseman does that?! A year later, he runs Uncle Mo who was not only under prepared, but sick, in the Breeders Cup Classic. Jason, you can spout all you want about how many winners he has, but you're fooling yourself if you think he's a horseman. I'll stick with America's greatest trainer, Bob Baffert.

07 Feb 2012 5:52 PM
Age of Reason

Great point on your last comment, Jason. Obviously, when a trainer [i.e. Pletcher] makes winning the Derby his focal point (and why not?), he might throw a lot of horses at the big race who have

just a remote shot. Don't be shocked when most of them don't get there,but the overwhelming numbers are bound to give him a hit now and then; it's a mathematical certainty. If anything, he will learn more in defeat than victory.Maybe that's why the average quality of his Derby starters seem to have been higher in the last few years than previously.

(Where do you get good judgment

from? Experience. Where do you

get experience from? Bad judgment! Just human nature.)

07 Feb 2012 6:34 PM


 If T.P. runs four horses in this years Derby and one of them wins, guess what the Pletcher haters will be saying. You guessed it, only one winner and THREE LOSERS!

07 Feb 2012 6:43 PM
Age of Reason

So, the Other Racing Site is reporting that Del Mar is wanting to host the Breeders Cup in 2013. (Off topic, I know...) Since the 'dirt-track divas' really loved when it was on the Pro-Ride, I'm sure they'll shout for joy when they hit the Polytrack!rofl (They might even manage to better Drosselmeyer's time in the Classic...)

07 Feb 2012 6:44 PM
Jason Shandler

Age of Reason: I didnt realize people still went to that other web site anymore. It's so inconsquential and inadequate that I was under the assumption that that it no longer existed. Thanks for the heads up, now the 17 people that used to go there daily can keep going.

07 Feb 2012 6:52 PM

Yes, Pletcher is loaded with talent.  He usually is in the preps.  I'll wait and see what he has left on the first Saturday in May...because that's when it counts.

I see On Fire Baby is Derby nominated.  Hope they nominate Broadway's Alibi too.

07 Feb 2012 7:12 PM

Pletcher is one of the best in the US and has been for years.I am surprised that he hasnt done as well as his mentor D Wayne Lukas(remember him).But that is another unexplainable, sorry ill borrow your screen name cold fact.He for whatever reason dosent win the Derby will all the possibles he has yearly.As opposed to Baffert who buys War Emblem less than a month before he wins it.BTW I had Super Saver and I think his best shot is Gemologist,we know he probably likes the Churchill surface,although Super Saver won the same race by 4 lengths.Please no speed figure rebutals, on comparing those two all the circumstances were different when each race was run.

07 Feb 2012 7:13 PM

When did Todd Pletcher become a trainer? Dec 1995

How many Kentucky Derby winners has he trained? 1

How many trainers have trained more than one Kentucky Derby winner since 2000? None

How many Kentucky Derbies have been run since  Pletcher became a trainer? 16

07 Feb 2012 7:18 PM

Forbidden Apple-

I'll buy that Izzy Rules can become a stakes winner, particularly on this SA surface. A couple of years back Dearest Trickski went from 10k claimer to (multiple?) SW a few years ago on this circuit and she also leveraged her speed to do it. Like I said in a previous post, streaking speed fillies can go from wallflowers to amazons when they start believing. The Las Flores would be the spot to take it down.

As for Ultimate Eagle, that was a strong race but he was helped by the slow pace. Yes, I said slow pace. 46 and 4 for GR1 horses on this track is slow. I believed Tapizar would be a top flight handicapper this year but his race was a large regression from his San Fernando. He flat out did not run. If GoD stays UE will be chasing him and it will be an entirely different scenario producing an effective sustained run to pick up the reigning HOY if Drosselmeyer doesn't enter the BC Classic. UE isn't a front end burner, more like a handy opportunist beautifully placed by Pedroza in his wins.

I'd like to see GoD stay and have the showdown materialize but I fear Baffert will get seduced by the $10M and world stage. If he goes, UE may get a similar trip and he can definitely get the trip on this surface.


I'll Have Another's race was genuine. He was bias aided but to stretch out off a five month layoff  and turn in that kind of effort is highly impressive. If no one else distinguishes himself before the SA Derby he will be a strong play at ~3/1 as most will wonder if it was the real deal.


There is an odd standout in Thursday's SA card in R7. Nothing like five consecutive blowout losses to help the price though.  

07 Feb 2012 7:28 PM
Smoking Baby

 Stevebiscuit.  A little harsh bro.  No disrespect but I'll chime in.  If I owned a nice horse and had it with Pletcher I would sleep easy knowing that my horse would be given every opportunity to succeed at the highest level.  Having said this my first choice of trainers even though I'm from the left coast would be Zito.  The man's a rock star.  I wish he came out here more.  At this early stage I like El Padrino the best of the Pletcher horses but I am a sucker for the Pulpits.

07 Feb 2012 7:39 PM
Jason Shandler

Mr. Besilu is back at the farm. Not even in training right now. $4.2 million...

07 Feb 2012 7:53 PM

Todd is a great trainer...he knows what to do with a horse and that's why the top owners and their advisors send horses to him year after year.  Can he pick up a horse and carry it across the line by himself?  No.  Can he put a horse in position to win, given its ability, racing style, pedigree, and health?  Yes.  Nobody was going to win last year with Uncle Mo, given the hand the poor horse was dealt.  Todd is a top horseman, not a miracle worker.  

It takes luck as well as horsemanship and the horse to win the Derby.  I would start with him, as does Winstar, Coolmore, etc. for horsemanship.  Todd is classy and talented.

07 Feb 2012 8:38 PM

Jersey Boy

You're foregetting Real Quiet, Silver Charm and War Emblem.  They won Derbies for Baffert since 1995.

You're also forgetting Thunder Gulch, Grindstone and Charismatic.  They won Derbies for Wayne Lukas beginning in 1995.

07 Feb 2012 8:41 PM

Jersey Boy

You're right about the new millenium though.

07 Feb 2012 8:42 PM

Great, informative article Jason, thanks.  Keep them coming.  Todd Pletcher will win a lot of races and a lot of money for his owners.  That's what he's paid to do and he is very successful at it.  But NOOOOO! He's only won one Kentucky Derby so far, what a bum!

Todd Pletcher could have 20 horses in the gate for the Derby and when he won, some on this blog would say, "What a loser, nineteen of his twenty horses lost."

It's like what Hilliary Clinton said about John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and constant Obama critic; "...If President Obama...walked on water, you'd say he couldn't swim..."  Some people revel in negativity, it's what drives them.  

TP will be one of my trainers and a lot of his horses will be spread over my stable entries in RoadtotheRoses.com.  GO TODD!  I hope Discreet Dancer doesn't lose much time and Algorithims looks super.    

07 Feb 2012 9:09 PM
Paula Higgins

Bob from Boston, I LOL at your Dan and Sheila comment. Where in the name of G*D to people come up with these names? It's almost a given that no horse with a name like that, will ever win anything of note. It would be against all the laws of nature.

I think people are bing too hard on Todd Pletcher. While I am still not impressed with the LAT situation, I do agree with skyfire that he is an excellent trainer and that winning the Derby is also about luck and factors beyond any trainer's control (post position, trip, track condition etc.). I also agree that Baffert is the bomb. But my favorite, John Shirreffs, would get any horse I had (which I don't). Please don't bring up Uncle Mo. Still breaks my heart that he was so sick.

07 Feb 2012 9:57 PM


Haters got no place to go and cry. Racing is not just about winning the derby. There are hundreds of others stakes to run in. No one is more hot than Todd right now. Any owner with him is happy. And I dont know how does anybody says that uncle mo was under prepared. I mean if Kelso was an underprepared race, then tell me what prepared is.


You don't have to kill yourself over haters like stevebiscuit. We should actually thank them, because are the people who make us win money. Stevebiscuit, please bet against Todd's horses. I request you to do so throughout the year.

07 Feb 2012 11:39 PM

Algorithms is a very smart cookie but Discreet Dancer is el numero uno in Pletcher's barn right now. It may be a blessing in disguise if he doesn't make the FOY because Union Rags is a "buzz saw" and Hansen is coming back with fire in his nostrils. They should consider shipping him out to Oaklawn Park. The Fountain of Youth promises to be a humdinger and the winner of that one could send all pretenders running for cover.

08 Feb 2012 12:30 AM

I'm not sure why Pletcher is often malaised by many, just because of his Derby record. It's like he's the Rodney Dangerfield of trainers(doesn't get any respect), when it comes to the Derby. I guess his record in the Derby just doesn't put fear in anyone comsidering betting against him. Not like his mentor, Lucas, who for years, if you were  playing the Derby, you would always have to include Lucas in your betting, or end up letting him beat you. I don't doubt Pletcher is all class in his dealings with his owners, and also he has to be respected for his fine entourage of workers who take care of the daily needs of his steeds. But, I have to admit when it comes to a Pletcher trained horse, I look at the horse for the entire reason as to why I play or don't play the horse in my betting.  Pletcher alone is not my reason for playing a horse..ever. Not like some other trainers that I respected so much, I would often play the horse, just because they were the trainer. The late Frankel, was perhaps the best example I could give as a trainer who I would play his horse in a race, just because he was the trainer. Pletcher, for me, just does'nt carry that kind of influence in my betting, not sure why, but he just doesn't. So for now I just wish Prince Pletcher all the luck in the world with his Derby prospects, but I will continue to pick my Derby prospects based on the horse itself.

Hey, what's up with Zito this year? Does he have one of those great distance runners that he usually trains? Now there's another trainer who I respect beyond what his horse's records may depict.

IMVHO- Predict

08 Feb 2012 12:50 AM

Smoking Baby, being harsh is necessary to counterbalance Jason's Pletcher-worship.

08 Feb 2012 1:03 AM


08 Feb 2012 2:35 AM
Matthew W

The come home time, when you compare fractions of other races run that day, of the Robert Lewis was strong--and when you consider how Empire Way closed ground into that already fast come home time--I am impressed! As of now he is my Derby Horse! And I hope they keep Rosario--who rides Creative Cause, also for Mike Harrington--thats two for Harrington, two strong contenders--Empire Way a half to Royal Delta, he'll stay like a mother in law!

08 Feb 2012 3:42 AM

Jason, Why isn't Mr. Besilu in training right now?   By now he should be getting ready to make his debut.  Whats the word in the rumor mill?

Maybe they should send Mr. Besilu out west and let Bob Baffert get him ready.

08 Feb 2012 5:58 AM


I was not comparing trainers.

And, I did not forget those horses. In fact,I remember that War Emblem was a finished product who was purchased and sent to Baffert just before his Derby start.

I also know that W Lucas started training thoroughbreds in 1978, when Pletcher was 11 years old.

Baffert is 59. Pletcher is 44.

08 Feb 2012 6:58 AM

Why even bother writing about Pletcher and his Derby horses? He may start off the year hot but when it comes to keeping these horses sound, he fails miserably. I'm done following Pletcher's "Derby" horses. His Derby showing has been incredibly disappointing the last several years. Last year he had Uncle Mo, couldn't get him to the Derby. Year before he had Eskendereya, couldn't get him to the Derby. 2009, Quality Road. I find it hard to get excited about a potential Derby horse Pletcher trains. Odds are, they won't start come the first Saturday in May.

08 Feb 2012 9:40 AM


Thanks for the update on Mr. Besilu, but are you able to get any more info on "why" this horse is not even in training?  Sounds like another Take Control.

08 Feb 2012 10:04 AM
Jason Shandler

Mr. Besilu shows his last work on Jan. 1 at Palm Meadows. It was only his second work since July. In speaking with Leon's racing manager a couple weeks ago, he said he is back at the farm. Obviously there is some type of problem with the horse. I'm not sure what it is, but you guys can read between the lines.

08 Feb 2012 10:12 AM
Pedigree Ann

Back in 1972, Charlie Whittingham had a colt that most thought was a 'Derby colt', the towering Quack. By T.V. Lark out of a Princequillo mare, he was bred to stay all day. He finished a close, closing second in both the San Felipe H and the Santa Anita Derby (to the beautiful, miler-bred overachiever Solar Salute), and scored with consummate ease in the California Derby (between the SA and Ky Derby in those days). But the Bald Eagle of the Backstretch judged Quack too immature for the stress of running 10f in a strong field in May and kept him home.

Two and a half months later, Quack equaled the world record for 10f in becoming only the second 3yo to win the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Whittingham brought his champion 2yo Porterhouse to the Derby in 1953 off of a so-so preparation and saw him stomped. He then declared he would not bring another horse to the Derby unless he was convinced it would win. His next Derby starter was Ferdinand, and the next Sunday Silence.

Once, breeders and stallion managers pored over pedigrees, conformation, and performance then accepted only the 30-40 mares who best suited their stallion. The trend these days in breeding is to throw a couple hundred mares at a stallion and hope a few of the matings 'click.' Guess what? It doesn't work as well as using experience and judgment; the stallions these days may have more SWs numerically, but they also have vastly more duds.

Lukas started the trend of throwing a half-dozen horses into the Derby, hoping one would have had the proper combination of preparation and inborn stamina. Pletcher continues the practice, with less success. Lukas had the advantage that in that earlier era, most top yearlings had a decent amount of stamina in the pedigree. No so today; many of those who breed for the sales actively disdain staying horses (eg Invasor and Einstein and even Tiznow, before his foals hit the track) and breed most of their best mares to hot 2yos and sprinter/milers. Might work for the Derby once in a while, but not consistently.

08 Feb 2012 10:18 AM

I really hope TP sends Gemologist to the Rebel and not Tampa. Tampa has such an odd surface and could throw him off course toward the Derby. To me, sending him to Oaklawn for both preps would work best as the surface at Oaklawn is most like Churchill Downs, a surface he has already won twice on. Just my thoughts ...

08 Feb 2012 11:51 AM
El Kabong

Maybe this will help explain Pletcher's record in the Derby better than anything. Most of the 3 year olds entered will not get the distance. No fault of the trainer, they're just not bred to do it, and most trainers can't over come that fact. In most years, 15 of the 20 entered finish at least 10 lengths behind the winner=out of it=didn't get the distance. Bottom line is, you have to have the horse. The best trainers of Derby winners will admit that it was the horse, That their training of their Derby winner probably wasn't significantly different than what they did with any other horse in their barn. Pletcher's overall success is what drives those who replenish his barn with Derby hopefuls year in and year out and that is not a fault, it's a credit. I myself, despite being a fan of his efforts, have only backed two of his Derby Entries in all the years he had one. Bandini and Super Saver. It's the horse folks, find him, and yes, he might be in Pletcher's barn. He's batting 50% for me when I've trusted him.

08 Feb 2012 11:56 AM

this blog is comical. Some of these comments are so off base and irrational it is a joke. I will laugh all the way to the bank. People are seriously blaming Pletcher for quarter cracks and liver ailments?? really?

That is like saying Jim Caldwell was a bad coach b/c Peyton Manning hurt his neck, or that Mike Brown is a bad coach b/c Kobe fell and tore ligaments in his wrist, or any other athlete getting hurt is the coaches fault. Are you kidding me? You just hear more about Pletchers horses getting hurt b/c they are all racing in big races. I guess we should slam Motion for getting Animal Kingdom hurt, or Matz b/c of Barbaro, or Ritchey b/c of Afleet Alex. You get my point. Athletes get hurt all of the time. It is part of the sport Give it a rest already.

08 Feb 2012 12:06 PM

El Padrino....a classic pedigree???  Really???  He is inbred 3x3 to Mr Prospector.  Yes he is out of a Giants Causeway mare, but I would bet your this colt is muscular and has a short neck.  NOT traits that shout 1 1/4 miles.  Pulpit has been bred to some very stout mares and he domintes them and throughs horses that can get 1 1/8 miles.  I will keep my eye on this guy, but he does not have a "solid Classic pedigree" as you say or may think.  It usually helps if the sire and dam hav won at a distance, and more than once.  Pulpit only won at 1 1/8 miles one time and 2nd in another.  Not really shouting classic siring stallion.  His 14 years at stud have born that out.   Yes Ice Box ran 2nd in the Derby, but he is the exception and not the rule.  Better to look at other sons of A.P.Indy that actually won at 1 1/4 miles to see true Derby Horses.

08 Feb 2012 12:40 PM

Pletcher wins races and the owners make money.  That is his job and he does it well.  Is he my favorite trainer?  No, but he does what he is supposed to do for his clients and I can't fault him for that.

08 Feb 2012 1:13 PM

TJLuvsTizs - I agree with you that Oaklawn is the track most like Churchill.  But I would submit to you that Tampa Bay Downs is the next closest track surface to Churchill after Oaklawn.

08 Feb 2012 1:20 PM

Jersey Boy

I'm not trying to dump on Todd though it might have looked that way.  I mentioned those because I thought you meant since 1995, not 2000.  Todd has always been one of my favorites, especially earlier in his career.  People give trainers good horses or potentially good horses to train quite simply because of the respect they have in their abilities and the results they have achieved.  It's getting tougher and tougher for trainers to repeat in the big races.  One look at the winning trainers of BC Classic winners probably makes this point.  Until last year, only Charlie Whittingham, (Ferdinand and Sunday Silence), and Jay Robbins (Tiznow back to back), have ever won two Classics.  Now Bill Mott joins that list.  And that is in 28 running, and Drosselymeyer made it 16 years between wins for him.  (Just as a side note:  Baffert might be 59 now and Todd 44, but he was either 44 or 45 when he won his first Derby with Silver Charm.  I doubt that Todd had horses with the ability to win Classic races in the early years of his career.

08 Feb 2012 2:16 PM



Derby "fever" equals derby bombs and I'm not so sure that comes from the trainer.  If I paid over 3 million for a horse I would give the Derby a shot no matter how tallented the horse was.

But, why did Pletcher suddenly enter an over matched filly in the Kentucky Derby when his big horse had to bow out?  

That filly was so over matched and had no shot.

There is something to be said about those trainers who go 3-4 or 2-5 lifetime with winners, the Whittingham types who won't go unless they are serious and have the goods.  

The Derby has been anything but recently.  Horses making their first start of the year in March, horses winning out of ALWOC, and many horses who can't ever seem to ever win again.  

Take a look at the exotics.  It is still the best betting race of the year.  Hit a super and your an instant millionaire.

08 Feb 2012 2:41 PM

Mr. Besilu, another Green Monkey...lol

08 Feb 2012 3:28 PM
CarryBack 61

@Pedigree Ann - A posting after my own heart!  

08 Feb 2012 3:44 PM
Forbidden Apple


Most people will not go back and watch the recent performance by Izzy Rules. Izzy Rules was extremely impressive in my opinion. Some might call it a cheap allowance race, but she is an exciting horse to watch. For me it is not all about the Triple Crown races. Bonde is still under the radar too, maybe Frumious will wake some folks up after he blisters the track in Dubai!

I get why people like Game On Dude and I hope he stays here for the Big Cap showdown with Ultimate Eagle. I just see immense raw talent and power in Ultimate Eagle. And I have not been this excited about a horse since the late Barbaro raised the hair on my arms. Tapizar was completely driven into the ground by trying to match strides with the Eagle. I was not expecting the Eagle to set the pace, but he is just that good. He will prove his worth in the Big Cap when he lands himself in the winners circle again.

Is the horse you mentioned on thursday's S.A. card Leroy's Dynameaux? He looks strong at 9/2 with Bejarano up. It's nice to hear someone else interested in west coast racing, I love it and I'm in NY. What's your opinion on my number one 3 year old colt named Out of Bounds?

As of this past weekend there have been 14 stakes races that the Bloodhorse has listed as KY Derby preps. To the best of my knowledge, Pletcher has won just one of those races, the Holy Bull. And that was a race where the favorite burned himself out and the other competition Consortium hated the mud and ran like a turtle in peanut butter. Super Saver was a 100% one hit MUD wonder, the Milli Vanilli of triple crown races. Let me know when Pletcher trains a horse of the year or a Dubai World Cup winner. For all of these so called prep wins, they all add up to one champion older male, Left Bank.

08 Feb 2012 3:48 PM


I don't think that we can say that Mr. Besilu is another "The Green Monkey".  The Green Monkey at least made it to the track and went wineless in three races.  Maybe he might be more along the lines of Snaafi Dancer a $10.2 million dollar horse at auction who was reportedly "so slow it would have been embarassing to bring him to the track" and who when retired to stud sired exactly four offspring.

08 Feb 2012 4:40 PM
Karen in Texas

Is it conceivable that Pletcher has entered more horses in the Derby than were truly TC material because he was acceding to the wishes of the owners? If the horses had the necessary earnings, then he may have had difficulty convincing them otherwise. It's just a thought. It looks as though this year he may have a few with the "right stuff" if their prep performances remain consistent.

08 Feb 2012 5:14 PM

Todd Pletcher is all class, professionalism and a great ambassador for the sport. As an American trainer he ranks with the best in the world and his charges are more often than not a force to reckon with when they hit the track. He shook the monkey off his back when breaking his 'derby duck' with Super Saver in 2010 and has a fighting chance to score his second this year.

Derby preps carry a lot of stakes and Graded status: they are more than just stepping stones to the Kentucky Derby and Todd Pletcher is very savy in placing his horses to earn big time and enhance their stud/breeding value. Those are some of the things that owners look for in sending their horses to be conditioned by him.

Losing bettors who are always trying to get long odds may not like him and that's understandable.

08 Feb 2012 5:38 PM
Carlos in Cali


No- thank you and Jason for betting on everything Pletcher sends out,like the overmatched sprinter How Do I win in the Withers(4th of 6) & for making his average maiden winner Ecabroni the favorite in the Sam Davis(last of 12) last weekend.Seriously,thank you from the bottom of my pockets.Keep them coming..

08 Feb 2012 5:48 PM
Karen in Texas

Forbidden Apple---Champion older male, Lawyer Ron, in 2007 as well.

08 Feb 2012 6:11 PM
Matthew W

Pedigree Ann I saw Quack several times at Santa Anita as a three year old--he was a bit of a plodder and a moneyburner--that is, always bet/never winning--but The Great Whittingham developed him into the best horse of his crop, and I believe he was better than both Riva Ridge and Key To The Mint--his Hollywood Gold Cup (as three year ond, 1972), over a huge field on a very hot day--was a tour de force, the likes of which having rarely been seen in the sport, I remember Harry Henson saying, as Quack had made this sweeping move around thye field, from far back--he said, "...turning into the stretch, it's KOO-WHACK!..."...talk about a strong kick and stamina, Quack had all that.

08 Feb 2012 6:20 PM

Mathew W:  Empire Way is actually FULL brother to Royal Delta.  While I found him to be not much in the looks department, like his champion sister he carries his head level with his body while running.  I thought Mike Harrington

looked very pleased with the colts's Robert B. Lewis performance.  Personally, I like his other Derby prospect a wee-bit better.  Hey, how bout that Ultimate Eagle!!

08 Feb 2012 6:40 PM
Karen in Texas

Forbidden Apple---Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point about Left Bank. Pletcher has had several Eclipse champions. (I'm having problems getting comments submitted--I hope this is not a repeat.)


08 Feb 2012 6:45 PM
Paula Higgins

Pedigree Ann that was a great and really informative post. I think the most important thing any trainer can do is not ruin a good horse. It's all about the horse. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Zenyatta had been in someone else's barn i.e. would they have ruined her by racing her too soon.

08 Feb 2012 7:40 PM

Lukas also entered A LOT of Derby horses and seemed to hit most with the "unknown" ones.  

08 Feb 2012 8:21 PM
Alicia McQuilkin

Pedigree Ann: very valid argument on the basis of today's breeding methods. I couldn't have expressed my own opinions much better! Breeding to race has a long (and unreliable) wait for return/profit whereas breeding to sell is much quicker. I think the horse world has taken a business strategy of other livestock (cattle, pigs) and implemented it to very similar results (market/dinner vs breeding animals are very different types like pinhook vs racing prospects are). And I can honestly say the 'prettier' ones are not usually the classic distance horses but the ones who fetch a lot, therefore have the money behind them to go to the big trainers, get to the best races and inflate the ego of humans who dream of winning the Derby.

On that note, I think Todd Pletcher runs his stable like a business. It makes total sense. The bigger your numbers, the more SW/GSW, etc you can market to new clients. Think of the people in racing right now with money to burn: Repole, Flay, Plank all who made their money from scratch. If you were an entrepreneur who started your own company with your own grit, who are you going to go with to be in charge of millions of dollars worth of investments: The man who can boast huge numbers across the board and runs his business like a business.....or the horseman who loves this job and does great (to those in the know) but doesn't have the staggering numbers to sell him/herself? Obviously you'll want someone who's more of a business manager, you'll see that as the best and quickest way to succeed...ie: great, precocious 2yos on a consistent basis.

Personally, would I send my horses to Pletcher (if I came into a windfall of money)....no. I have the utmost respect for him, his resume is stacked with achievements. He was an assistant to a legend and he gets the job done. He puts his horses in places they can win. He tries to run them on separate prep schedules (smart, "no conflict of interest" arguments from owners). And he wins lots of awards. His methods and style just isn't how I'd do it. But I'm not necessarily a big believer in putting all my eggs in one basket, each horse has a different style and it'd be in their best interest to put them in the appropriate stable. But that'd be the glorious thing about being someone with lots of money, doing what you want and not having to worry about much fiscal responsibility.

08 Feb 2012 9:28 PM

Mr. Shandler,

As a fellow support of your blog, I like to keep you honest. Your claim below is no justified by the COLD FACTS.

“Over the past decade, it almost seems like a rite of passage that Todd Pletcher will dominate the Kentucky Derby preps.”

Below is a summation of the Derby preps won by Mr. Pletcher’s over the last 10 years. The records between 2002 and 2006 might not be totally accurate as they reflect the Derby preps associated with his Derby starters. There could have been winner that did not make the Derby field. The records for the period between 2007 and 2011 are accurate.

2002: One Derby starter. Likely no win in major Derby prep.

Derby Finish: 18TH (LAST)

2003: No Derby Starter. Likely no win in major Derby prep

2004: Hutcheson S, Tampa Bay Derby, Illinois Derby (3)

Derby Finish: 3RD, 17TH, 17TH

2005: Lane's End S, LEXINGTON STKS, Blue Grass S (3)

Derby Finish: 9TH, 12TH, 19TH


Derby Finish: 2nd, 20TH(LAST)


Derby Finish: 6TH, 8TH, , 9TH, 18TH, 20TH (LAST)


Derby Finish:  9TH, 18TH, 20TH (LAST)  

2009: Zero win in major preps

Derby Finish:  7TH, 11TH, 13TH  


Derby Finish: 1ST, 9TH, ,10TH, 13TH


Derby Finish: 11TH

The above does not indicate that Mr. Pletcher has dominated the Derby Preps over the last 10 years. He had two dominant years i.e., 2007 & 2010. He had three years where he won 3 of the major preps. The remaining 5 years he had 1, 2 and zero wins. The year he won seven major preps he had five derby starters and none hit the board. His stable is affected by the Crash and Burn Syndrome on the 1st Saturday in May.  No amount of irrelevant data and ridicule can negate these colt facts.

08 Feb 2012 11:50 PM

I like Discreet Dancer and Gemologist. Intrigued as to whether or not Discreet Dancer can go the distance, and make the leap into graded stakes competition, and Gemologist is undefeated, wonder if he can continue the dominance. I think that Algorithms' Holy Bull was extremely impressive, but I have this nagging feeling in the back of my head that he might bounce in his next start. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm waiting until the Fountain of Youth to be fully sold on him. Plus I'm usually leery about Pletcher's Derby prospects, he seems to do superbly in the preps, but in the actual Derby he comes up empty. Every year I see write-ups similar to this one, his loaded hand, but he winds up missing in the Derby. We shall see.

08 Feb 2012 11:55 PM

Mr. Pletcher’s Derby record makes for interesting reading for one that has people worshiping at his altar.

Win Percentage: One win from 29 starters - 3.44%

Top Four Percentages: Five top four finishers - 17.24%

Finishing position most occupied: Five of the 29 starters finished last 17.24%; 9thposition is next with four.

Finishing positions not achieved: None of the 29 starters has ever finished 5Th, 15th or 16th (He loaded for 2012)

Number of year since securing Trainers license: 17 (1995-2012)

First Derby starters came in 2000, five years after securing license. They finished 3rd & 4th. That’s the only time two his multiple entries have made the top 4.

Number of years without a Derby starter subsequent to his first starters: One - 2003

Number of years with one Derby starter: Two - 2002 (Wild Horses) finished last; 2011 (Stay Thirsty) finished 11th

Mr. Pletcher has been represented by a total of 29 starters’ in 11 of the last 12 Derbies.  He has secured one victory to date and in spite of this win percentage, every year his worshipers gloat over the fact that his stable is loaded with Derby prospects.  They fail to recognize that the Derby is his Achilles Heel. In fairness to Mr. Pletcher, how many of those 29 Derby starters were capable of winning the Derby? Probably just a few! Was Super Saver his best Derby starter? Unlikely, as he did not even win a 3YO Derby prep or any subsequent to his Derby victory. Probably his best Derby starter was Bluegrass Cat who went off at 35-1. He ran into Barbaro and was unable to resurface for the Preakness.

After 11 years of high expectations and bitter disappointment one would think that this alleged brilliant trainer would have figured out what is wrong with his Derby program. It cannot all be blamed on bad luck or lack of talent. Mr. Pletcher has everything at his disposal that a training operation requires to be successful. The big question then must be, Why does his horses run so brilliantly in the Derby Preps and so poorly in the Derbies? Scat Daddy won the FOY and FL Derby and finished 18th in the Derby. Cowtown Cat won Illinois Derby and Gotham and finished last in the Derby. Bandini was an impressive winner of the Bluegrass and finished 19th in the Derby. Mine That Bird placed in a pair of ungraded New Mexico Derbies and won the Derby by the largest winning margin in the last 50 years leaving the $3.7M blue blooded Dunkirk trained by Mr. Plerccher in his wake.  Giacomo won the 2005 Derby with only a maiden victory to his credit defeating Flower Alley the Lane's End winner and Bandini the Bluegrass winner trained by Mr. Pletcher. Both Flower Alley and Bandini entered the Derby with Gl & Gll victories. Something must be wrong with the Pletcher program and it is apparent he does not know how to fix it.

Mr. Pletcher Derby record does no inspire confidence. He has had more than enough time to figure out how to program his horses for the 1st Saturday in May. Those who have therefore become cynical have every right and should not be ridiculed. Those that continue to worship at his altar must by now realize that they are like the biblical Idol Worshipers.

09 Feb 2012 1:18 AM

Carlos in Cali:

Trust me I will. You won in that single race, I will win on Pletcher throughout the year, Doesn't bother me. And I don't bet on every Pletcher horse, BUT i do not always bet Against them like you do.

I bet all you haters bet on Pletcher horses all the time too. There is no way you are going to make money in big races by always playing against Pletcher. Face it, He is the man right now. Derby is a hit and go. How many horses now a days come in Derby as favorite, and win ? Get over it already

09 Feb 2012 2:52 AM

Forbidden Apple-

If Teddy's Promise and Home Sweet Aspen make the Las Flores then you will get ~4/1 on Izzy Rules. People will believe that HSA, since she has led in two straight GR1's that she will obvious out step an allowance graduate in a GR3, which won't happen. HSA has never shown the early gas that IR has now and will have to sit and kick, which will erase the edge she used in her last three wins. The problem IR will have is holding off Teddy's Promise in that last 1/16th of the 6.5F's. If it materializes, that will be a race to forward to.

To quote Colonel Nathan Jessup, "You want Game On Dude in the Big Cap, You NEED GoD in the Big Cap." If he goes to Meydan, you're looking @ 6/5, maybe less, after Ultimate Eagle's air job in the Strub. If GoD stays, you'll get 5/2. As strongly as you feel about UA, it won't matter if he stays or not, so why not get the price?

I'd just like to see a deep field in the premiere race of the year of my race tracking youth that has been cannibalized by Dubai.

No, it wasn't Leroy's Dynameaux I was referring to, even though he has either had huge trouble in the stretch or been closed out by the pace going back 4 or 5 races. In his last he was given a Neanderthal  ride @ Turf Paradise, as his jock had him run a premature 22 flat third quarter while 7-8 wide leaving him winded and vulnerable in the stretch. His form is better than looked but the rails @ 30ft is a killer. The standout I mentioned is Pressday. He's a multiple GR1 & 2 winner and has made $750k. He's a bleeder that gets Lasix for the 1st time and he's absolutely killing it in his works. 58 flat on the grass?  I can't remember anything close to that out here. Although it's not a John Henry 1:47 and change that I witnessed between races @ Hollywood Park in the early 80's, it's downright beastly for this field. The outside draw is the cherry on top when he has Rosario up.


By the way, Forbidden Apple was one salty turfer in his time and would have been a BC winner for his 2001 effort in a few other years. Val Royal was freakish that season and his ~22 last quarter while going 8 wide around the Belmont turn has, arguably, never been equaled, either before or after that year.

Here's your namesake and VR.


09 Feb 2012 4:36 AM

All the trainers have to run their stables like a business,because it is one.He is just more visible for the public to have opinions on because he is at the top of money earners every year,and anytime their is a big race whether televised or not he probably has an entry.The claiming trainers that are at the top of the standings yearly at any track are the ones whose stable mirrors a business most closely because of necessity.Trainers that run allowance,stakes barns dont always run their horses to win most of the races just as preps for other races.Claiming trainers dont have that luxury because of the nature of their business.Why would I think I can comment on this,because I follow different trainers that have different types of stables.

09 Feb 2012 5:44 AM
El Kabong

Karen in Texas,

"Is it conceivable that Pletcher has entered more horses in the Derby than were truly TC material because he was acceding to the wishes of the owners? "

No question about it. They (the owners) have the final say and it happens all the time and not just with Pletcher's barn. How different would the 2005 Derby had been if Smith and Tabor had not sent Spanish Chestnut, a miler at best stretch, into the race to destroy the pace? I know it's part of the game but I believe we would have had a triple crown champion that year had they not done so.

Very good point Karen,  and very true.  

09 Feb 2012 6:38 AM
Jason Shandler

Nowhere did I use the term "major" Derby preps. And your facts are skewed. There were some years that his horses won preps but did not make the Derby because of injury or other factors.

09 Feb 2012 8:56 AM
Smoking Baby

 Mathew W. Were you there for Quack's Hollywood Derby against Riva Ridge, Finalista, etc.?  What a race.  Another GREAT race call by Harry Henson.

09 Feb 2012 8:56 AM
Forbidden Apple

Karen In TX,

My only point regarding Left Bank, was that Pletcher gets his horses to win early as 2 and 3 year olds. I do not consider him a trainer who can keep a horse racing for a period of time. I forgot about Lawyer Ron, since he was not with Pletcher from the start.


I'm all in when Izzy Rules, Frumious, and Ultimate Eagle race again. You said that Tapizar did not run at all. I disagree, he ran the best that he could, he just got blistered and run into the ground by a far superior horse in Ultimate Eagle.

I looked at Pressday's list of workouts and they are impressive. I saw fast works at 4,5,6, and 7 furlongs. He is an unknown to me. Is he a speed horse, mid pack, or closer? Is this a prep race for Pressday since he has not run since September?

Forbidden Apple is one of my all time favorite horses. It's sad that he is unknown as a sire. His grade I victory in the 2001 Manhattan was my biggest score up until that point. I bet $200 to win at 7-1 and he went wire to wire the same day Point Given romped in the Belmont Stakes.

09 Feb 2012 9:50 AM
Pedigree Ann

Matthew- I was an undergrad in SoCal at the time and couldn't get to the races as often as I would like; the Big Cap was always on the weekend before Finals Week for the winter term, for instance. But I did see the Santa Anita Derby. I was a big fan of Solar Salute - he was so-o-o pretty, the neat, balanced sort. Quack was the big lumbering sort, and a bit unfinished. Solar Salute was on a run of 5 or 6 wins since the New Year and was overreaching on his Calbred pedigree - Windsor Rulers were said to need to call a taxi after the mile-pole. But he was a fighter and held Quack a head or neck at the wire. I have some old Brownie snapshots I took of them in the paddock somewhere in the basement.

P.S. Royal Owl, the top Cal 2yo of the crop, was third in that SA Derby and would go on to win the Charles H. Strub (the 10f one) at 4. He was another big bruiser of horse.

09 Feb 2012 9:53 AM

Hey Jason,

I'm looking forward to the return of Gemologist. Tiznow's are known to get started late or so they say. Has a few nice things working for him. Has graded cash, Has a stakes win at CD. He has bigtime upside, IMO.

I don't have anything against Mr. Pletcher. The things I find annoying about his training program is that he points horses to races and doesn't necessarily campaign them. As a fan/handicapper I wanna see his stars more.

The big breaks he does (along with his owners)from the fall/spring classics is most frustrating. Not every horse can be the same? Two preps and a peak perfromance can't work for 'um all, Can it?


Someone brought up The Green Monkey. What is he up to? Is he in the breeding shed? Just Curious.


09 Feb 2012 10:15 AM
It aint easy being good!

Hey Jason look at Coldfacts post looks like he just Ashton Kutcher you! How about those pats too! When are you going to get on a roll again we have been waiting for a year now!

09 Feb 2012 11:09 AM

Spring Hill Farm V Big Blue Nation racing on Saturday in race 3 at Gulfstream. Should be one to watch. Both Pletcher Horses going a mile. Johnny V on spring Hill farm, Ramon on BBN. Also, race 2, looks like some runners in this race also at 7 panels. Inside horses have a strong shot. Pants on Fire going on turf in race 7. The whole card is loaded on Saturday. Let's make some money

09 Feb 2012 11:29 AM
Your Only Friend

Todd is excellent trainer...wins many races.....going to the 'BIG DANCE" is difficult for all....TOP HORSES, TOP TRAINERS, TOP OF THEIR GAME....YA lucky to win ...get by the first turn/ many good horses are eliminated. Must have good game plan and bring your "A" game.

09 Feb 2012 11:59 AM
Carlos in Cali


I have no reason to hate Pletcher or any other horseman for that matter. I play his horses when I think they have a shot,not just because he enters them.It's not that simple and I'm not a lazy handicapper.

09 Feb 2012 12:18 PM

In 1989 Lukas's highly touted Houston (The 3 million dollar wonder horse) was the best of the west.  Then in March Sunday Silence takes the San Felipe out of no where.  Then he follows this up with a day light win over Houston in the Santa Anita Derby.  What does Lukas do?  Claims that Houston was dehydrated.  Sounds plausable right?  What else do you tell an owner who bought a 3 million dollar lemon?  You make an excuse and tell them they can win the Kentucky Derby.  Then you suck it up and get beat by a $28,000 dollar horse that no one wanted.

That's what makes the Derby so great.  Taking out that over hyped, over valued, over bet, thoroughbred.

09 Feb 2012 12:36 PM
Karen in Texas

Ranagulzion----Spring Hill Farm is shown to be running this weekend, the 11th. (In another allowance, as you said.)

Forbidden Apple----While I realize they were not TC horses, Pletcher did an excellent job with Ashado, Fleet Indian, and English Channel in my opinion. He managed Ashado from her first start in the 2003 Spinaway until the 2005 Beldame--her 2,3, and 4y/o seasons. Of course, she won the 2004 Kentucky Oaks and 2004 BC Distaff along the way, with Eclipse awards in both 2004 and 2005 as 3y/o filly and older mare. English Channel ran from age 2 (2004) through age 5 (2007). He won 10 major races 2005-2007, including the BC Turf, and was Eclipse turf champion in 2007. They were both kept racing "for a period of time" and at high levels of competition in my view. As I said, I realize opinions can differ.

09 Feb 2012 12:54 PM


Out of Bounds is a talent who has been getting major buzz out here, first for his looks and then for his Sham score. I was all over him @ 2/1 in his maiden but wasn't that impressed as it looked as if Rafael took the length of the stretch to get by a couple of marginal speedballs but RB may have had them measured, though it didn't look like it to me. In the Sham I singled Hierro but "Choke Him Back" Leparoux flipped to his alter ego "Tout Suite Julien" and had him steadying into a rapid pace in the first turn. I wasn't impressed by the Sham overall as Secret Circle and Longview Drive will not make anyone forget Spend a Buck but OoB did move forward and has to be credited for that. Any horse that has the looks, breeding, and talent by start three to take a moderately quick stake in the manner he did has earned the right for high regard but we've still got a long way until May.


I strongly believe Pressday has some handiness as he wouldn't be able to pull off those works without some speed. Unfortunately, his AUS PP's do not contain any comments about his racing style so we're left to project it. Rosario is savvy when it comes to taking advantage of conditions so I will be very surprised if he doesn't leverage his outside post by being forwardly placed with the rails set @ 30ft. Sadler was pointing for the  Arcadia before this race was written and it fits him to a T. He towers over this field class wise. On the downside I have to sweat out the severity of his bleeding issue but this is a risk I'm willing to absorb. The last five blowouts will  boost the price and after the race, if he runs as I see him running, people will be staring down at their PP's wondering where the runaway victory came from or, if he   bombs, the verdict will be why would anyone back a confirmed sour horse. There's always a doubtful issue to wrap into the wagering process, whether it be surface, distance, trainer, jock, class, or pace. In this case it's condition. This one's worth it to me.  

09 Feb 2012 1:01 PM

When all is said and done, I think Baffert will top Ben Jones' Kentucky Derby record of 6 and Baffert won't have the benefit of training for Calumet Farms.  All 3 of his Kentucky Derby winners went on to also take the Preakness with Real Quiet a nose away from the Triple Crown.  

09 Feb 2012 1:18 PM

Indian Charlie goes into the Derby as the favorite with an undefeated record.  He's trained by Baffert and wins handily his last prep the Santa Anita Derby.  What could go wrong?  Real Quiet a horse that took 7 tries to break his maiden!

It's great!

09 Feb 2012 1:26 PM


I meant "Tout de Suite Julien", not "Tout Suite", which I found out through Urban Dictionary means a "quick, silent fart", though it is also apt as that is what he does to his mounts when I wager on him.

09 Feb 2012 1:47 PM
Carlos in Cali

BTW: sharjyl

"There is no way you are going to make money in big races by always playing against Pletcher".

Really?..  odds are his entries will always be overbet and I'm pretty sure they don't win them all.You must be new to the game,you'll learn.

09 Feb 2012 1:50 PM
El Kabong

Billy's Empire,

GP card is loaded. Looking forward to seeing SHF run. Look for Golden Ticket in 5th. Odds may not be great, but he'll be fine if they run on grass or switch it over to dirt. Very versatile colt who's beginning to figure it out. Should be his maiden shaker.

09 Feb 2012 1:51 PM

Pedigree Ann: Royal Owl!

Winnah Pickah: check the 2YO blogs here.  The Green Monkey got picked as a Sire to Watch (contrary to many opinions, including mine. Ack!)

09 Feb 2012 1:56 PM
Kelly Wietsma

Hey Stevebiscuit...how many graded stakes winners have you trained?  How many horses have you had in the starting gate in any of the Triple Crown races?  Better yet...when's the last time you trained a Thoroughbred?  Get a life you loser arm chair quarterback!!!!!

09 Feb 2012 5:00 PM

Oops, I made an error and I was there, old age must be getting the best of me. I was at Gulfstream when Quality Road defeated Dunkirk in a thrilling Florida Derby. It was after that race, that he developed quarter cracks and did not race in any of the triple crown races.

09 Feb 2012 5:55 PM

I hope that Discreet Dancer will be well enough to run in the Fountain of Youth. Joyce Robsham, his owner and breeder, is deserving of this. She bred his grand dam, Pretty Discreet, who foaled Discreet Cat. She took over her and her husband's breeding and racing stable after his death in 2004. And also had a son die. She has an adorable video from last year on Discreet Cat's Facebook page and he is just so sweet and adorable. She has yet to win a Breeders Cup.

09 Feb 2012 5:59 PM
Bob from Boston

They paid $14 million for a racehorse and named him "The Green Monkey?" They got what they deserved.  He was probably too embarrassed from the post parade to run.  I hope they have a nickname for him in the breeding shed or they could run into covering problems.  Ted from LA says you have to feel good about yourself for optimal performance.

09 Feb 2012 6:11 PM
Jean in Chicago

The Green Monkey had a great pedigree and people with too much money at the sales.  Once again, I think the Racing Gods heard that stupid name and said no way.  I think some of the horses stuck with such idiotic names are just too embaressed to win.  Are the owners drunk when they come up with these names or just crazy?

09 Feb 2012 6:44 PM

I think the "sleeper" out west would have to be Creative Cause.  I can't see where he has done anything wrong and he had a nice run over Churchill.  Should make his first start of the year in the San Felipe.

09 Feb 2012 7:13 PM
Jean in Chicago


Who knows what the Green Monkey's offspring will do?  But I don't have great hopes.  The dams of his foals don't seem all that great and once again the 2010 foals all seem to have stupid names.  He is a pretty horse, though, with that same white face as Shackleford.  Do most of Forestry's kids have that really wide blaze?

09 Feb 2012 7:18 PM
Smoking Baby

 Pedigree Ann.  Solar Salute stood at stud at Rancho Paraiso in Walnut Creek, California.  I worked for those people on the racetrack for a couple years while he was there and spent lots of time at the farm.  Nicest people you'd ever want to meet.  I must admit I don't remember much about Solar Salute though.  Both he and I believe MacArthur Park were awesome two year olds in California in 1971 as you may remember.

09 Feb 2012 7:27 PM

Fed Biz looked great today.

HRTV showed Shackelford out for a stroll today.  My gosh! His muscles have grown muscles.  He looked huge....almost overly so.  Can't wait to see the Donn.

09 Feb 2012 7:39 PM

Great post coldfacts and thank goodness Ice Box got checked 3 times or S.S would of got place $$$

09 Feb 2012 8:30 PM

Long time reader of this blog, but never have commented.  But reading all of this reminds me of how this is my favorite time of year.  Derby season has begun!

Who cares if you love Pletcher or not?  Bet the horse you think will pay - if you win all the better.  Although in most races if you bet a Pletcher horse you get no value - I would have no problem taking a Pletcher horse in the Derby if the price is right and that's the horse I believe in.

The only trainer I would never bet on is that dirtbag Dutrow.  The fact he still has a license at all is a whole other blog topic.  

Keep up the good work Jason - love the blog!

09 Feb 2012 8:44 PM
Tiz Herself

I really like Gemologist. I can't wait to see his 2012 debut!

09 Feb 2012 9:22 PM
Tiz Herself

Also like Algorithms as well. Bernardini's three year olds are going to have a huge year.

09 Feb 2012 9:24 PM
Matthew W

1972 at Santa Anita was my second year as a race fan but it was my first year that I was able to attend most Saturdays--little did I know, 1972 was a magical Santa Anita season, one for the ages, from the five horse photo, a neck separating Autobiography, Triple Bend, Unconscious, Good Councel, His Majesty--in the San Fernando...to the Santa Margarita five horse photo, of Turkish Trousers, Typecast, Convenience, Manta, and Street Dancer! I was glued to Turkish Trousers, a beautiful, small blackish filly of immense class--and I watched her from saddling through warm-ups, watched Shoe push her through that small hole on the inside...saw her get there before another smallish filly, the great Typecast! Had her at 9-2! And, yes, I was there for the Derby--watched Jerry Fanning's Solar Salute throttle them--and the other Cal-bred, the heavy fave Royal Owl, hang, a week after I saw him work out, between races, in 1:34 3/5....I "knew" he was spent after that rediculous work, he had worked right after the other Derby fave, another Cal-bred, Macurthur Park, worked 1:35 3/5....Mac bowed I think--he retired, I know that! Royal Owl, by Crazy Kid, was one of the largest horses I ever saw race--he died a horrible death at Big Sandy, he was high priced claimer by then, strange place for an ultra fast Cal bred, but that is where he ended up(side) sigh...but, yes, Santa Anita Derby Day--I was thirteen, my little sister Mary asked Frank Olivares for his autograph, she said "Mr Pincay, may I have your autograph?"...."I'm not Pincay", he blurted back at her, taking her program and signing it anyway---she asked Shoe for his...and as his handlers were trying to whisk him away, he abrubtly turned back, and trotted over to my sis, signing it among "ooohhsss" and " ahhhss's"...I think my dad and I bet Quack--and we left as they were going down the stretch--and Quack hung again...but oh, what was to come! His Hollywood Gold was one of the best races I have seen, as far as singular performance goes--Quack ran incredibly that day!

09 Feb 2012 10:20 PM

Matthew W-

I'm a sucker for old track stories and yours definitely is a fit with the vivid personal details layered upon the period history.  

Nice post.

09 Feb 2012 11:55 PM

Todd Pletcher is great trainer and he gets his horses to the derby. He might not have a high percentage but at least he gets them to the dance. I feel each derby is there own set of circumstances. Who would have guessed Animal Kingdom, Mine That Bird or Giacomo would have won the derby. Chip Wooley is 100% at the derby. Come on!

I am excited about Algorithms, Discreet Dancer,Gemologist, El Padrino and Spring Hill Farm. Pletcher is stacked and if everything works out,he could have his second derby win.

10 Feb 2012 1:34 AM

Discreet Dancer has recovered from his fever and is now training according to Facebook.

And as far as him getting the distance, his female line has the distance and stamina and is first class. His dam, West Side Dancer, is from Gone West. Union Rags' dam Tempo, also has a very impressive pedigree and is from Gone West.

The last Gone West descendent to nearly reach the triple crown was Smarty Jones.

It would be a great 90th birthday present for Penny Chenery for her to see a Secretariat descendent win the triple crown.

10 Feb 2012 8:31 AM

Just an FYI, they named the horse "The Green Monkey" after a golf course in Barbados that they played on.

10 Feb 2012 9:40 AM

So yesterday, I found a Derby horse that our non-betting, Peta loving, always in a bad mood, tight wallet friend can play, AFFORD. Out of Street Sense and bred by James Tafel, he won going 1 mile 70 yards and closed to win by a nose after being 4-5 wide in the race. He is one to watch.

10 Feb 2012 9:55 AM
Mike Relva


What makes you Pletcher's protector? Are you on his payroll?

10 Feb 2012 9:57 AM

What is a trainer's job?  Win races and money.  That is what Pletcher does.  He attracts clients who want early results and he gets them.  If the majority of his clients are happy, then he is doing exactly what he should be doing.

10 Feb 2012 12:17 PM

Pletcher is a VERY good trainer and an even better business man. The one sure thing you can bet on is he will run in the Derby whether he has a legit contender or not. Much like Lukas.

10 Feb 2012 12:53 PM

I love the stamina on the female line of Creative Cause.  He sure looked "long and steady" from a stalking trip in the Breeder's Cup.  If it was not for Union Rags ducking and weaving in the stretch like a drunk salor CC may have finished second.  About 100 yards out Union Rags ducks in and pins Creative Cause behind Hansen.  I don't know if was from lack of preparation, or Union Rags getting tired, but they will certainly have to get that cleared up before moving forward.  

10 Feb 2012 4:48 PM
Forbidden Apple

I was completely surprised to see Battle Hardened on the cover of the recent Bloodhorse edition. This was a slap in the face to Ultimate Eagle and Game on Dude. There is more going on in horse racing than the 3 year old prep races.

saturday picks at Gulfstream:

3) Space Race

6) Silent Fright

7) Fastest Magician

8) Ever So Lucky

9) Here To Win

10) Flat Out/Ruler On Ice/Sangaree

11) Yankee Fourtune/Smart Bid/Boisterous

Here To Win is an unknown horse with plenty of ability. Yankee Fourtune can win if he sits behind Get Stormy and gets the first run to the wire. I am expecting Flat Out to rebound in the Donn.

saturday picks at Santa Anita:


7)Le Mans

8)Hout Bay/Pink Lollipops


The 7/8/9 pick three looks solid to me, but a bit chalky. Le Mans is set for his first turf outing. Hout Bay should get a fast pace up front. And Sanagas is just too good for this field.

11 Feb 2012 7:06 AM
El Kabong


5$ pick 3

4 with 257 with 8. Good luck.

11 Feb 2012 1:31 PM
El Kabong

3000 TP trained V's. I'll have a coldfacts cheeseburger, some salty forbidden apple fries and a big TODD MILKSHAKE  to go, go and keep going.

11 Feb 2012 1:46 PM

Fed Biz

11 Feb 2012 9:40 PM
Forbidden Apple

El Kabong,

I don't quite understand your recent posts. Are you saying that you have a pocket full of Silver Medallion's after betting on Spring Hill Farm($3.60) and Thunder Moccasin($2.40)? For me I can sum up yesterday's races with one word, ugly.

12 Feb 2012 1:37 PM

I would call this weekend UGLY too if I picked as bad as you Forbidden Apple. I might go as far as calling it FUGLY. El Kabong's 2 singles both won, Spring Hill Farm and Golden Ticket.

Leparoux is riding Union Rags in the FOY.

Thunder Moccasin is a sprinter/miler type. He won easy, but he was gassed past the wire.

Joyful Victory looked good also, maybe she can turn it around this year.

Tonight, WHITE OUT, U of L V CUSE. Let's get 8 in a row Louisville...

13 Feb 2012 8:22 AM

Utopian just missed.  Hit It Rich just missed.  Hollinger just missed.  At least I had Hymn Book.  I guess mine was disappointing knowing what it could have been.

13 Feb 2012 12:29 PM
Mary Zinke

BH, You have an escapee over at ntra.com. Please reimburse them for diaper service. Crying babies don't understand tips about Derby hopefuls like Afford.

14 Feb 2012 2:52 PM

Mary, hahahaahaha. Some things never change.

14 Feb 2012 4:54 PM
Mary Zinke

Thanks for the amusing time I spent with your punching bag earlier, B.E. Do I send you the cleaning bill for what your dog left? :)

14 Feb 2012 5:11 PM

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