Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Risen Star on Pletcher's agenda

January 29, 2020 09:08am

Three years after trainer Todd Pletcher sent Always Dreaming out to break his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs, a colt following in his footsteps is poised to try the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners President and Founder Aron Wellman said Farmington Road, a Jan. 12 Tampa winner, is possible to move on to Fair Grounds’ Feb. 15 Risen Star Stakes (G2).

“He’s a horse that seems to be very much on the improve, and we know he’ll run all day,” Wellman said, “so we’re starting to keep an open mind about what could be next for him.”

By Quality Road, Farmington Road had to defeat a pesky stablemate to graduate at third asking. Under jockey Daniel Centeno, Farmington Road ranged up to Noble Empire’s outside through the far turn, and from there they dueled until the runner-up gave in with a sixteenth of a mile to go.

The final margin was 1 3/4 lengths with Noble Empire a first-time runner for the Pletcher barn previously trained by D. Wayne Lukas. The race’s third-place finisher was another 16 3/4 lengths behind, usually a sign of a strong performance by the Top 2.

Since the victory, Farmington Road has returned to Pletcher’s main winter base, Palm Beach Downs, and “had a really good breeze” there Sunday. It measured a half mile in 48.69 seconds and would allow for two more timed works before the Risen Star.

Pletcher has won three editions of that race: 2010 (Discreetly Mine), 2012 (El Padrino) and 2014 (Intense Holiday). The event formerly ran at 1 1/16 miles and, as with other Fair Grounds preps this season, was lengthened. Its points payout remains 50-20-10-5 to the Top 4 finishers.

Before breaking his maiden, Farmington Road missed the board going six furlongs on Oct. 23 at Belmont Park, then ran second to a next-out stakes runner, Moon Over Miami, in a one-mile flight on Dec. 7 at Aqueduct.

Whether the competition was such a significant step down, or if Farmington Road is simply improving, will be a key question for horseplayers. Always Dreaming went from his Jan. 25 maiden win at Tampa — also in his third straight — to allowance company at Gulfstream Park before winning the Florida Derby (G1).

To send Farmington Road right into the Risen Star would present a faster rise in class while still allowing time for one or two more points preps before the first Saturday in May. Among those under consideration for the Risen Star are the first through third-place finishers of Fair Grounds’ Lecomte Stakes (G3): Enforceable, Silver State and Mr. Monomoy.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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