Derby Day After--All Appear Well

As rain continued to pour on a soggy Churchill Downs stable area the morning of May 2, trainer Todd Pletcher was absorbing the previous day's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands victory by Super Saver as the trainers of those who finished behind the WinStar homebred were considering their future plans.

Pletcher said Super Saver would remain at Churchill Downs and likely ship to Baltimore, Md. on Wednesday, May 12, to prepare for the May 15 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the second leg of the coveted Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds.

Pletcher, who rarely shows much emotion, experienced the highs and lows of the Derby leading up to the 136th renewal. Earlier in the week, Eskendereya, the morning-line favorite, was scratched due to an injury and responded by entering the filly Devil May Care in the Derby instead of the Kentucky Oaks and had a four-horse Derby entry.

"It's the one thing that was missing on our resume," said Pletcher, who was winless with 24 starters prior to this year's Derby. "I don't think it necessarily makes me a better trainer than I was, but I think in everyone else’s eyes it means something.

"As far as accomplishments, there are a lot of big races and races with bigger purses, but I think everyone out there and my colleagues would agree the Derby is the one you want to win the most."

The trainers of Ice Box, Paddy O'Prado, and Make Music for Me, the respective second through fourth finishers in the Derby, were non-committal about running in the Preakness.

Officials of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico, said the short list of Preakness possibles include Super Saver as well as Dublin, the Derby seventh-place finisher. Among others committed to the Preakness are Aikenite, Bushwacked, and Caracortado, while A Little Warm and Schoolyard Dreams are possibles.

"There are people who are sitting on the fence, but they have said 'don't put my name out yet.' But I think we will have a full field (of 14)," said MJC stakes coordinator Coley Blind.

Nick Zito, who trains Ice Box, said he was pleased with the colt's runner-up effort, considering all of the problems he had in the race.

"He was checked three times, he easily could have run 18th," Zito said. Zito was non-committal about the prospects of Ice Box and 13th-place finisher Jackson Bend for the Preakness, noting that he would wait until later in the week to make a decision.

Despite being bumped around in the race, Ice Box only had superficial scrapes, the trainer said.

Dale Romans, who trains Paddy O’Prado, said there was nothing he could see that would preclude the third-place finisher from going on to the Preakness.

Alexis Barba, whose Make Music for Me was the final horse to draw into the Kentucky Derby field and finished fourth, said she would take her colt to Keeneland. Barba said a Preakness decision would be made after she consulted with owners Peter and Ellen Johnson.

Overall, the trainers of horses that finished behind Super Saver were complimentary of the Derby winner, noticing that he was the best horse and that jockey Calvin Borel, winning his third Derby in the last four years, was a major factor.

He said he was most disappointed with what happened to Eskenderaya, he had to move on and look to the Derby with the horses he had.

While winning the Derby was satisfying to Pletcher, he said he was especially happy for owner WinStar and his stable staff. With 175 horses in training and 150 employees, Pletcher has one of the largest stables in the country.

He said it was unlikely that any of his other Derby horses would run in the Preakness.

(Originally posted on www.BloodHorse.com.)

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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