05/04/2013 8:07PM

Kentucky Derby: Pletcher's Saturday turns into a washout

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Barbara D. Livingston
Todd Pletcher walks with his horses before the Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It literally rained on trainer Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby parade.

After a week where everything went swimmingly for the five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer, Pletcher’s quintet of Derby contenders floundered in the slop at Churchill Downs in the 139th Run for the Roses. The best Pletcher could do was a third-place finish with Revolutionary, the 6-1 second choice.

Pletcher’s remaining four horses were well back - Charming Kitten (ninth), Overanalyze (11th), Palace Malice (12th) and Verrazano (14th) - leaving Pletcher 1 for 36 through 13 runnings in the Kentucky Derby.

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“I felt like we had a really great week, everything was going well. You win the Derby Trial, you win the [Kentucky] Oaks, you think everything you kind of laid out has gone according to plan,” said Pletcher, who won Friday’s Oaks with Princess of Sylmar. “It rains all day and it kind of changes everything.”

Pletcher, as has become his custom, watched the Derby in the horsemen’s lounge adjacent to the Churchill paddock. He got a little bit excited when Calvin Borel found a seam in upper stretch, but the colt couldn’t sustain his bid and was beaten 3 1/2 lengths.

“I thought for a second we were going to make a run,” Pletcher said. “He got shuffled back, looked like he had to work his way through a few times, but he was still coming at the end.”

Borel, who was riding Revolutionary for the first time, said the horse was “jumping up and down” early on, but he didn’t mind being 18th because of the fast early fractions.

“I was very satisfied where I was,” Borel said.

“The only thing I wish around the far turn I could have crept up a little bit closer. But I couldn’t get there. Turning for home, when I got through, I still thought I’d get to them. He gave me a turn of foot but it wasn’t very much - about a sixteenth of a mile.”

Verrazano, the undefeated winner of the Wood Memorial, raced up close to the fast pace, but jockey John Velazquez said he knew he was in trouble early.

“We had a good trip, I just don’t think he liked the track,” Velazquez said. “He was already in trouble into the first turn trying to get a grip of the track.”

Palace Malice, with blinkers on for the first time, showed uncharacteristic early speed, running six furlongs in 1:09.80 - equaling the fourth-fastest clocking for that distance and the same as last year - before fading in the stretch.

Pletcher said he and jockey Mike Smith had discussed it and thought their position would be “mid-division just behind the speed.”

“He caught a flyer and he was gone. He just went with it.”

Smith said, “Even when he made the lead he still wanted to run off. I was like, ‘C’mon man.’ You hate to fight too, too much, but it was certainly too quick.”

Charming Kitten, a 33-1 longshot, didn’t do much running, nor did Overanalyze, who was sent off at 16-1.

JasonD73 More than 1 year ago
Backed Revolutionary, but why use the derby as the race to add 1st blinkers anyway? An equiptment change like that was just dumb. Not like it's first Lasix. May as well just admit they still dont know this horse. SMH.
matt More than 1 year ago
Where are those Pletcher backers who said ORB was too slow? Crickets..........and it was so sweet to see ORB run by Verazanno like he was standing still.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
One thing that is hard to figure on Pletcher is that his MSW and NW1X are dominant in Florida and then they pretty much seem to disappear. To be fair it is pretty much the same with Wesley Ward's 2 yr olds in Kentucky each spring they rocket 4 1/2 or 5 furlongs and most of them pretty much disappear. It's merely questions...anybody have answers ?
matt More than 1 year ago
John, it's a long race year. Most top shelf horses don't start to gear up until spring. Easy to dominate Gulfstream when the top of the crop is in the barn.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Why would Dogwood Stable, the owner of Palace Malice, allow their very promising 3yo to be used as a rabbit? There was going to be pace whether he ran off or not. Pletcher didn't win because he didn't have the best horse. Orb was the best horse going in, and he had a great trip and handled the slop. There was nothing Todd Pletcher could have done to change that. I would have liked to see Verrazano get a fast track that he could handle.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Please leave Pletcher alone fee chrissakes! He is still learning the game. It takes at least 20 years. He hasn't trained for 15 yet. His crime is the good horses he gets. He can't help it if he's great with owners. That's a job requirement btw. Don't be on his horses if you have to. Let's give his some room to breathe! :-))
aaronrayk More than 1 year ago
I want to like Mike Smith but I just can't.
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
Especially after how he treated Chantel Sutherland on the show, "Jockeys."
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
It was a TV show! Lots of things were hyped up or fabricated for the show.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
No matter how P.M. ran the real story here is about our 2013 Ky.Dby. winner, one word "WOW" just an awesome training job turned in by Shug M. and team, ORB looked every bit the part ever since the Fountain Of Youth and has just been on the improve and has alot more room for improvement in him (just scary thought), let's hope the racing devil does not rear it's evil head, I'm keeping my finger's crossed that ORB stays healthy and see's this T.C. out and finishes the year in some B.C. race and returns back next year as one of the elite in the Sport Of Kings, one that has not been seen in a long time...........
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
look I feel for the palace malice crowd but that horse was never going to win the derby. Your logic that he was the best horse and had a very good shot fly's against your arguments that pletcher used him as a rabbit...if he was indeed pletchers best hope he would not have been the sacrificial rabbit. Or maybe he just wasn't getting it done in the mornings and they made a disastrous change of equipment that resulted in a much more aggressive horse. 9 times out of 10 ORB will beat palace malice maybe the only shot he had was to gun and pray the track carried him...the best horse won get over it...oh yes and one more point VERREZANO was the horse that had least to gain from a very fast pace since he does not stay well over 1 1/16.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Totally agree. It's not like PM was 3-1, more like 23-1. Mike Smith wouldn't ride a rabbit for anyone - he wants to win. There is very little logic from most of these "rabbit" comments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would agree that Palace malice could have run off on his own but with new Blinkers and Pletcher having 4 closers in the race, I say it was a set up and if Mike Smith wants to ride for Pletcher he did what he was told. PM could have been up there with his regular running style...
Ronald Tucker More than 1 year ago
enough with Pletcher, the guy buys his way and is a creep and tries to muscle the sport. I am very very happy to see him take the hurdle with the loser circle. He's a egotistic loser..