Archive for Todd Pletcher

Pletcher Loaded Yet Again For Derby

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from David Grening of…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Pletcher well stocked for Kentucky Derby assault, but tempers enthusiasm

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – A veteran of Triple Crown delight and disappointment, trainer Todd Pletcher knows as rosy as things look right now for his 3-year-olds, they can get thorny in a hurry.

That’s why even as loaded as Pletcher appears to be for this year’s Kentucky Derby, he is doing his best to temper his enthusiasm.

Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby coffers are overfilling with the likes of Algorithms, who knocked off champion 2-year-old Hansen in Sunday’s Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park to remain undefeated; El Padrino, who kicked off his 3-year-old season Sunday with a sharp allowance victory; and the late-starting Discreet Dancer, who has been ultra-impressive with two wins this meet. Then there’s Gemologist, who went 3 for 3 as a 2-year-old and is expected to return to the races in March.

“We’re holding a strong hand, but sometimes a strong hand in January doesn’t mean a strong hand in May,” Pletcher, who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, said Monday morning in his office at the Palm Meadows training center. “We’re happy with where we are at the moment, but we’ve been down the road before and know how things can change in a hurry. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed and advance to the next round.”

The next round will get somewhat dicey for Pletcher as he tries to sort out when and where to run his bevy of 3-year-olds. Algorithms, who beat Hansen by five lengths in the Holy Bull, is 2 for 2 at Gulfstream (3 for 3 overall) and could be aimed at the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth there Feb. 26 and/or the $1 million Florida Derby on March 31.

Though Algorithms is a half-brother to sprinters Keyed Entry – whom Pletcher trained – and Justin Phillip, he has a mindset that allows him to settle and move when the rider asks.

“Having the benefit of knowing that the mare is capable of throwing one that can be a little ambitious, we handled things differently,” Pletcher said. “We breezed him by himself a lot. He seems to have a better mindset than Keyed Entry did, and he’s also by Bernardini who you’d think would add stamina to the pedigree.”

Discreet Dancer, a son of Discreet Cat, has won his first two starts by more than 15 lengths at Gulfstream this winter. Discreet Dancer is under strong consideration for the Fountain of Youth and Monday he worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows in 1:02.30, getting a final quarter in 24.64 seconds while simply galloping.

Pletcher said one of the exciting things about Discreet Dancer is that he’s never been asked for his all in any of his breezes or in his first two races.

“How much better is he when we turn him loose, I don’t know,” Pletcher said. “If we go in the Fountain of Youth, I would expect running against the horses that are pointing for that we’d have the opportunity to find out.”

El Padrino, a son of Pulpit, ran past the highly regarded Take Charge Indy in a first-level allowance race Sunday to win by two lengths. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.68 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. He, too, is a candidate for the Fountain of Youth or perhaps something out of town like the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 25.

“He’s a horse that’s always shown a lot of quality,” Pletcher said. “Not at all surprised by what he did yesterday.”

Pletcher said where Algorithms, Discreet Dancer, and El Padrino make their next starts will depend on how they’re training and what the owners of each horse want to do.

“As a trainer of multiple horses, sometimes I have to put some of those decisions in the owners lap and say here are your options,” Pletcher said. “They can all read the Form and understand how these races are shaping up. Some might opt for an easier avenue, some might want to stay [at Gulfstream]. It’ll make for some interesting conversations in the next month.”

This weekend, Pletcher plans to start Ecabroni in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis at Tampa and How Do I Win in the $200,000 Withers at Aqueduct.

Broadway’s Alibi is not a Derby contender, but she could find herself in a race against males next out. After watching Broadway’s Alibi win Sunday’s Grade 2 Forward Gal by 16 3/4 lengths, Pletcher said he wouldn’t “absolutely rule out” running her in the Swale on March 10. The Grade 3, $150,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct the same day also is possible.

Pletcher, who is a meet-leading 30 for 84 through the first two months of his meet, is closing in on his 3,000th career victory. He ended the weekend with 2,895 career wins.



Disclosure In Horse Racing: How Much Does The Horseplayer Deserve To Know???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Ray Paulick of The Paulick Report…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Does Racing Need Mo Disclosure?

Mike Repole’s Uncle Mo arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday, still dogged by questions about his first career defeat in the Wood Memorial on April 9. Last year’s 2-year-old champion had no response when challenged in the final furlong of the Wood, finishing third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Toby’s Corner.

Some questions have gone beyond Uncle Mo’s performance, dealing with more philosophical questions about transparency in the area of veterinary medicine and racehorses.

For example, more than a few observers wondered about that freshly shaved rectangular patch below Uncle Mo’s right knee. Could it be a splint bone issue, a skin problem, or was the area ultrasounded for diagnosis only?

Others noticed markings on both of Uncle Mo’s shins indicating pinfiring, something that could have occurred many months ago. And then there was what appeared to be a right hind foot with an Equilox patch, a remedy that could indicate the need for reinforcement due to a quarter crack, bad hoof walls, or simply a complication from shoeing.

We don’t know, and probably never will.

The real question is whether or not it’s anyone’s business other than the owner of the horse.

It is the prevailing philosophy in American racing, as well as in the breeding and auction arena, that such information is private. Disclosure seems to be a dirty word in this business, whether it’s surgeries on racehorses, leg-straightening procedures on foals who will later be offered at weanling, yearling and 2-year-old sales, or medications given to horses before auctions or races.

Is there a connection between this veil of secrecy and the growing distrust and skepticism consumers seem to be exhibiting about the Thoroughbred industry? Or is this much adieu about nothing?

For their part, owner Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher have practiced partial disclosure. Following Uncle Mo’s defeat, they issued a statement saying the colt came out of the Wood Memorial with a gastrointestinal tract infection. The disclosure of the infection was preceded by this comment from Pletcher: “Although it is not my standard practice to share a horse’s examination results with anyone other than the owner, I feel that Uncle Mo’s disappointing performance in the Wood Memorial warrants an explanation.”

Their explanation for Uncle Mo’s performance didn’t include a treatment plan. Would he be given therapeutic medication, a special diet, or perhaps spend some time at a clinic with a hyperbaric (oxygen) chamber?

Again, is it any of our business?

That depends. Mike Repole owns the horse and pays the bills to take care of him. But many of the people who bet on horse racing believe they have a right to know what kind of injuries a horse may have had, what veterinary procedures that horse has undergone, and what medications he may be receiving.

Repole is a horseplayer. If he had no connection to Uncle Mo, do you think he might be curious to know about that shaved area on the right foreleg before he made a bet on the Wood? If he was playing the Derby Futures Wager, and there was widespread talk among racetrack veterinarians that Uncle Mo may have had a chip removed from his knee after the Breeders’ Cup in November, is that something Repole the horseplayer would be interested in knowing?

There are veterinary-client privilege laws throughout the United States, but horse racing is a highly regulated, government controlled industry. Many states require disclosure of information regarding the gelding of a horse or what raceday medications a horse receives. The long arm of regulations could be expanded.

Complete disclosure is practiced in what many consider the world’s most successful racing program in Hong Kong. Surgeries, lameness diagnoses and medications are fully disclosed and available to the public at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s website. In my opinion, that kind of disclosure builds confidence in the wagering public.

Here’s an example: Sacred Kingdom, the 2010 Hong Kong Horse of the Year, had colic surgery last March and was diagnosed as lame on three different occasions. (Click here to read his veterinary report.) That kind of information is available on every horse stabled at an HKJC track.

In addition, horseplayers in Hong Kong are provided complete information on every horse competing in advance of each racing program. For example, click here for a look at tomorrow night’s starters in the seventh race at Happy Valley.

“We have complied and published records on our official website for about 10 years,” said Bill Nader, the former New York Racing Association executive who now serves as the executive director of racing for the HKJC. “The Jockey Club website is content rich, embraces transparency and our customers have come to expect the highest standard of information delivery. So, it is all good.”

Nader acknowledges that it’s a lot easier to practice complete disclosure under Hong Kong’s controlled environment.

“The built-in advantage here,” he said, “is a captive horse population as only nine of our races are truly open to outsiders, the rest are for horses stabled at Sha Tin. Also, all vets are employed by the Jockey Club.

“Customer experience is the one thing that nearly every industry must respect and horse racing is no exception,” Nader added. “Reporting veterinary findings, whether on an odds-on favorite that has run poorly or any horse whether it be in a Class 5 or a Group 1, is good customer service. If a horse bleeds or suffers from a heart irregularity, we will announce it over our public-address system within an hour after the race. We strive to present the best racing and betting product in the world and, by doing so, we are meeting customer expectations. The fundamentals required to do this are quality racing, big betting pools that offer high liquidity, competitive racing with regard to runners per race (12.5) and integrity. Through greater transparency, we only take integrity to a higher level.”

Average daily pari-mutuel handle on each of Hong Kong’s 83 racing programs is US$123 million and growing (that’s more than was wagered in the pari-mutuel pools on the 2010 Kentucky Derby).

They must be doing something right.