Is Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby Cup Too Full?

Overanalyze (no. 1A), ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Todd Pletcher, wins the 99th running of the grade 2 Remsen Stakes for two year olds on November 24, 2012 at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)

Shanghai Bobby, Overanalyze, Verrazano, Palace Malice, Violence, Abraham, Forty Tales, and that’s only the horses in Florida! Revolutionary has apparently been called up from the minor leagues. After his gritty performance in this past weekend’s Withers Stakes he will make the trip from New York down to Florida on Tuesday to join the other Derby hopefuls under the watchful eye of Todd Pletcher.


I could be one of the few who view Mr. Pletcher’s stable and say “that guy has it rough.” But how on earth can I say that? He has 7, maybe 8 serious derby contenders, and each week the fickle mob of race fans jump around yelling “Todd’s horse, _________ will be your 2013 Kentucky Derby winner!!”


Based on rough estimations throughout the industry, it is postulated that 40-45 Kentucky Derby points will be enough to join the field of 20 on May 4th. Not a single Pletcher horse has that many yet. Not a single horse in the COUNTRY has that many yet. And now, Todd has concentrated his army of Derby contenders in South Florida. The same South Florida that has only THREE Kentucky Derby point qualifying prep races left. Between the Fountain of Youth, Tampa Bay Derby, and Florida Derby, Pletcher looks to have many big guns.


There are other well known 3 year olds also based in South Florida all expecting to punch their derby ticket with one more start, but I am more interested in the ones that aren’t well known yet. Who is going to be this year’s Hero of Order?


Aside from being a brilliant trainer, Pletcher will have to prove to be one master tactician to get all his heavyweights to run for roses in May. There are 2 obvious paths he could take: the shotgun approach or the sledgehammer approach. Taking the shotgun approach, he could send one or two of his major players to one of the many races east of the Mississippi and hope they all perform as expected. This has risks because of extra (maybe unplanned) travel, and having to wait until the last minute for a decision to put the best horses in their own respective best races based on the competition that will be entered.


Next we look at the sledgehammer approach. Here he could load up a few races, putting some of his best horses against one another. This seems very risky. Not only will Pletcher’s horses have to duke it out with each other, but as Shanghai Bobby found out last week, there are other big fish swimming around out there. This plan seems unlikely.


And this is all what we can see. I don’t envy the behind the scenes conversations that include “I have to put ‘so and so’ up against ‘what’s his name’” Two horses from the same trainer potentially racing for one spot…that will sure bring about a lot of questions. I know I am being very pessimistic here, but I am sure there will be some uncomfortable decisions to be made. Needless to say, Pletcher has one intense game of chess to mastermind over the next 3 months.


To me, the most exciting prospect of the Derby points system is that the best horses will have to face each other before the first Saturday in May. And although every trainer probably dreams of having a half dozen horses in the Derby, I wonder if they will think twice after watching Todd’s stressful spring of 2013.



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Older Comments about Is Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby Cup Too Full?...

Thanks for the contributions 1-31.PT Barnum had saying about your types. For the Derby i'll always find another trainer. You can keep pounding Pletcher in the Derby.Tell us again how's that's been working out for you ???
shadow u monkey Capo Bastone bleeds like Chuck Wepner and to think he's better off anywhere else is hilarious. ..Just getting to the dance is a feat winning takes a degree of luck along with a good horse.Ill take Pletcher and u can find yourself another trainer
1-31. You have to work really hard to amass that record of ineptitude. Worse he has on;y put 3 in the exacta.When it comes to paring down the derby start by tossing the Pletcher horses and then get down to handicapping. Same can not be said for the other 364 days but for the 1st Saturday in May I wish Capo Bastone had landed elsewhere.
He also had Uncle Mo. Was impressive, at times, last year, but didn't make a dent in 3-year-old HOY honors. All said and told, he's got a lot of ammo for this year.
I know it is annoying when a trainer enters a ton of horses, but honestly we shouldn't limit how many an owner/trainer can and can't enter. It is that owners right to have their horse there, especially if that horse has the talent and credentials to be there. I understand, rights can and have been abused many times, but honestly can anyone say Pletcher is abusing anything this year, or did even last year? Gemologist, impressive at 2 and 3. El Padrino was a nice horse, he would have also had Algorithms there if the horse had remained healthy. This year his contenders are all pretty darn legit. Having success is not a crime. Having a lot of good stables want you, and give you many talented horses is not a crime. I agree to maybe limiting a field, but not limiting the amount of shots one takes at success, especially if they are legit shots. Onto the blog topic. Pletcher has handled and juggled several top horses, at the same time in the past. Will this be difficult? Heck yes. Can he manage it? I think so. There is a reason he is one of the best.
Are we all talking about Todd Pletcher the Eclipse Award Winner and extremely successful trainer with many years of experience? Yes, I am sure he is losing focus and having owners voices haunting him. Now that I have stopped laughing, Pletcher has to love the position he is in. He has the experience and knowledge to move each horse where they need to go give them the best chance for success. He will have many horses in the Kentucky Derby and that group will include Palace Malice.
Winstar, Twin Creeks Racing, Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Bolton and Stonestreet, The Ramseys, Glencrest Farm, E. Paul Robsham, Black Rock Stables, Starlight Racing, Mangier Tabor &Smith, Mike Repole has 3>>> and others. That’s a lot of voices in Todd’s Head.
No offense to Pletcher, his numbers in big stakes races speaks for itself (other than the TC races), but if I had a nice stakes colt at this time of year I would rather have him in the hands of a trainer with a smaller stable, so as not to deal with the extreme juggling Pletcher is going to have to do this spring.
Pletcher has 29 of the 369 horses that were nominated fro the Triple Crown!
Todd Pletcher and Wayne Lukas have been criticized because they have entered so many horses in the Derby and have a relatively poor winning percentage, but I think this is more a reflection of how the attitude about running in the Derby has changed. Charlie Whittenham said he would not run a horse in the Derby unless it had a good chance to win and he only ran a few with two winners, and at that time many trainers and owners were of the same opinion. The 20 horse field was not that common in the past, but lately the goal of many owners and trainers is just to get in the field, to have the chance to walk over with your horse and hear My Old Kentucky Home, even if your chances to win are slim. Both Pletcher and Lukas want to get the most horses in the field and make their owners happy. I expect Todd Pletcher to find a way to spread out his horses so the largest number can get to start.
thank god u guys are here to help Todd with the decision process he clearly has no idea of how to handle this im sure he's overehelmed.Losing focus...idiot...r u serious losing focus that guy understands conditions and spotting horses better than anyone probably in the history of the sport (not an overstatement) u all r hilarious
It seems to be a double edge sword for him. The odds are pretty good. However, I think he is loosing focus on other horses like Capo Bastone and Varazzano that could have derby potential.
He should probably focus on getting his more fickle horses settled first. Shanghai Bobby and Violence have both proven that they don't have problems shipping, so they could easily be moved and entered elsewhere. Violence could even go in the Santa Anita Derby if need be. I think Overanalyze and Revolutionary should probably go to New York, or one could go and the other could stay for the Arkansas Derby or Louisiana Derby. Actually, just thinking about this is making my head hurt...
Well, Nick put five in the gate in 2005 and,,,,,,,, I hope Todd has better luck.
Pletcher has had a difficult time winning the Ky Derby, winning only with Super Saver. His mentor, D Wayne Lukas(I felt), also had an equally tough time. He won four Derbies out of 49 entered, but in three out of four of those, I thought he couldn't even handicap his own stable. In '95, Thunder Gulch won @ 25-1 odds while BC Juvenile champ, Timber Country, was odds-on favorite. The next year, Grindstone won, but was the lesser half of a betting entry that included Editor's Note. Finally, in '99, Charismatic won, but the betting action was going toward Cat Thief. I look at Pletcher, and it kind of reminds me of Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, who had such a deep stable that he couldn't recognize the talents of Seabiscuit. All said and told, though, this year looks to be Pletcher's year. Since the Ky Derby has put new rules into place, with the point-system, wouldn't it be interesting if they limited the amount of horses one trainer could enter in the Derby?

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