This week's news that Kentucky Derby hopeful Mutasaabeq would miss the Grade 3 Holy Bull was disappointing, but that was tempered by trainer Todd Pletcher's assurance that "he'll come back 100 percent" with a goal of bringing him back at Belmont Park or Saratoga.
After offering that update to HRN on Thursday, Pletcher went on to discuss the status of other leading horses in his stable.
"I thought they both ran terrific, happy with the way they came out of it," the Hall of Fame trainer said. "Haven’t really decided for sure what their next start will be. The Mervin Muniz at the Fair Grounds is one that we’re keeping an eye on. So we’ll enjoy their performances last weekend and kind of see how they train over the next couple of weeks and firm up a plan after that."
The $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) for older horses will be run at 1 1/8 miles March 20.
Then Pletcher moved on to his promising 3-year-olds:
Amount — Won on debut at seven furlongs Dec. 26; entered in Saturday's Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, a Kentucky Derby points race.
"Very impressive debut. Of course, that’s another one that’s bred to go further. It’s kind of a big step up. We were hoping for an allowance race, but nothing really materialized. So we can jump in to the deep end and see how he does in the Holy Bull."
Prime Factor — Smashing debut winner going six furlongs Dec. 12; entered in Holy Bull.
"Same scenario – just one start, going right into a graded stake. But very, very impressive in his debut, very professional. He’s trained lights out for us all along, so hoping his lack of experience will be offset by his raw talent."
Likeable — Broke maiden on second try in September, then 13th in Breeders' Cup Juvenile; entered in Saturday's Swale (G3) at Gulfstream.
"Unfortunately, drew the 1 hole going seven furlongs with quite a bit of other speed in the race. But he’s been training great, and we’re looking forward to backing him up to a little shorter distance (seven furlongs) that we think he’ll handle better."
Never Surprised — Two wins in two starts in November; entered in Saturday's Kitten's Joy (G3) at Gulfstream.
"Got a nice freshening after his two races at Aqueduct, and been training great. So we’re looking forward to getting him started again."
Known Agenda — Broke maiden on second try in November then third in Remsen (G2) on Dec. 5.
"Known Agenda's on schedule for the Sam Davis (a Grade 3, Kentucky Derby points race), so we'll have one more work on Saturday and then scheduled to go to Tampa on Feb. 6."
Ghazaaly — Finished third in debut at seven furlongs Saturday.
"I think he ran a sneaky good race, finished up very strongly, galloped out nicely. He’s a colt that we have some high hopes for, who we expected to perform well in his debut but also felt like he’s one that’s going to improve with added distance and a little more experience. So we were pleased with what he did and how he came out of it. Hopefully we’ll be able to stretch him out in his next start."
Perfect Munnings — 2-for-2, won Rego Park on Jan. 10. Aiming for Feb. 14 Gander, a state-restricted race at Aqueduct.
"Very pleased with the way he ran. Seems like a versatile colt that’s now won on the turf and dirt, so we’ll look forward to that race. And then if he does well in there, we might step up into open company and see how he does."
Regarding his older horses, Pletcher said Sweet Melania, Happy Saver, Basin, Dr Post, Halladay and Valiance are finishing up after taking a break and are expected back in the next several weeks.