01/05/2012 2:27PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Todd Pletcher


Todd Pletcher received his trainer’s license in December 1995. Nine years and one month later, he was recognized as North America’s outstanding trainer when he won his first Eclipse award, for 2004. He immediately became the trainer to beat by winning again for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010. Five wins in seven years is impressive, but it is even more remarkable to note that Pletcher has won five Eclipse awards from only 16 full years as a licensed trainer, nearly one Eclipse award for each three years in the business.

A good argument can be made that Pletcher, in his prime at 44, deserves to win again for his performance in 2011. He was the top trainer in total purse money won with $17,186,956. He dominated his rivals with 85 stakes wins, 41 more than Bob Baffert’s 44, the second-best total. Pletcher’s horses earned the most money in stakes races, $10,804,563. Pletcher was easily best in the number of graded stakes races won with 43, 13 more than Baffert, who is second with 30. The 11-win gap from Baffert’s 30 to H. Graham Motion’s 19, which was third best, further underscores Pletcher’s superiority in that category.

Pletcher trained five winners of Grade 1 stakes races in 2011. Stay Thirsty won the Travers and earned $1,325,000 this year. Hilda’s Passion won the Ballerina and $509,237. Awesome Maria won the Ogden Phipps and was a perfect 4 for 4, all graded stakes wins, with earnings of $390,000. Her Smile won the Prioress and $349,180. Buster’s Ready won the Mother Goose and $332,000.