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Arkansas Derby Possible for Pletcher Pair

Arkansas Derby Possible for Pletcher Pair
Photo: Oaklawn Park
Top trainer Todd Pletcher has two Arkansas Derby (G1) wins and used the path through Hot Springs to win his first Kentucky Derby (G1) two years ago with Super Saver, who had finished second in Oaklawn’s signature race. His stacked stable will again be represented during the season's headline event with Bartolazzo Stable's Stat and Starlight Racing's Heavy Breathing being the most likely Pletcher starters in the $1 million key Derby prep April 14.

Stat will get an important breeze Sunday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida to help Pletcher make a final determination. The son of Unbridled's Song exits an optional allowance win at Gulfstream March 17 and was runner-up in the Saratoga Special (G2) last summer behind top-ranked Union Rags.

"He's doing good and has picked it up lately," said Pletcher. "He'll have that breeze and we'll see how he does."

Heavy Breathing will make a relatively quick turnaround after finishing third in the Vinery Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park March 24. That was his first career loss after dominating two races in Florida including an optional allowance at the same 1 1/8th-mile distance of the Arkansas Derby.

"He was on the lead in the Spiral and went 23 and 46," said Pletcher offering an alibi for that first loss. "It looks like that was pretty ambitious on the front-end."

As has become typical, Pletcher is mapping a course for several top 3-year-olds over the next three weeks of Derby preps. He sends El Padrino in the Florida Derby (G1) March 31 and Gemologist in the Wood Memorial (G1), both with million-dollar purses. Those results could affect if Stat and Heavy Breathing are indeed the Oaklawn raiders.

Pletcher also added Wait Til Dawn, the 3-year-old filly winner of the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs may make the trip for the $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) on April 11 at the start of the Racing Festival of the South.

 

 

 

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