No trainer has saddled more Kentucky Derby starters than Todd Pletcher. With 54 in his career, he has had at least two in every running since 2002. But this year he might have only one.
Dr Post will be there. Coming off his third-place finish in the Haskell Stakes (G1), he continues to train up to the Sept. 5 renewal at Churchill Downs.
Lightly raced Money Moves, though, could be an 11th-hour wild card.
“It’s somewhere out there on the radar,” Pletcher said Thursday afternoon in a phone conversation from Saratoga. “It’s not real high up.”
But the door is cracked ajar for the Candy Ride colt to make the Derby his fourth start — and his first coming off a troubled yet impressive second-place finish in a Saratoga allowance race last month.
"First and foremost, we’re going to see how he trains,” Pletcher said of Money Moves. “We’ll see what the owners (Robert LaPenta and Bortolazzo Stable) have in mind and how aggressive they want to be. He obviously has no points. If the race has more than 20 horses with points, he would be on the outside looking in, so there’s a potential that there won’t even be a decision to be made. We’ll just kind of continue to play it by ear.”
Pletcher declared Dr Post to be in “excellent” shape as he prepares for his second race since finishing runner-up to Tiz The Law in the Belmont Stakes (G1). “He’ll work five-eighths (Friday), probably five-eighths the following week and just keep on a weekly schedule up to the Derby.”
One other Pletcher 3-year-old, Happy Saver, was ruled out of Derby consideration. Owned by Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, there was some discussion about entering him if the race did not fill. But Pletcher mooted that, saying, “He would have to be supplemented. We’re not planning to go Derby-bound with him.”
Whether or not Dr Post is joined by Money Moves, Pletcher still has to watch and wait for Churchill Downs to finalize its pandemic guidelines before he fills riding assignments. The linchpin is whether track executives go through with plans to make jockeys report to Kentucky by Aug. 24 for coronavirus testing.
“I still think there’s going to be some changes made to that,” he said. “Under the current guidelines it’s going to be extremely difficult. I have a feeling they’re going to come up with a better plan that has less restrictions in terms of the number of days that (jockeys) are going to have to miss at Saratoga. But until that’s finalized, I just don’t know. It would be a major consideration at this point if you’re limited to the Kentucky colony.”
Pletcher also outlined plans for some of his other horses:
• Although he said a decision was not firm, “the Woodward (G1) is the most likely next start” for 4-year-old Moretti. “We haven’t decided for sure. Obviously he really likes these longer distances. We could have our eye also on that Marathon race Breeders’ Cup weekend.” The Sept. 5 Woodward is 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga.
• Spinoff, the 4-year-old winner of this month’s Alydar Stakes, will probably start in the Woodward.
• Grade 3 Poker Stakes-winning 4-year-old Social Paranoia “is just getting ready to go back into training. He had a little bit of a break after the Poker. He should be back after the end of the month.”
• A Grade 3 winner in June at Belmont Park, 3-year-old Sweet Melania is heading to the $100,000 Lake George (G3) going one mile on the grass Aug. 28. "She’s doing great. She had a nice win off the layoff after the Breeders’ Cup.” The daughter of American Pharoah was third in the 2019 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
• Coming off a second-place allowance finish Wednesday, 3-year-old colt Candy Tycoon is “the type we point for another allowance race,” Pletcher said. “I thought he ran a credible race. He had a little bit of traffic issues on the far turn, but he continued to close well.”