05/04/2007 11:00PM

Pletcher, 0 for 5, says: 'We'll try again next year'


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's wait till next year yet again for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Though by his own admission he brought the strongest hand he ever had to the Kentucky Derby, Pletcher failed to achieve victory in the world's most famous horse race. Pletcher saddled a record-equaling five horses in Saturday's Run for the Roses, and his best finish was Circular Quay, who finished sixth.

Pletcher's other runners were Any Given Saturday (8th), Sam P. (9th), Scat Daddy (18th), and Cowtown Cat (last of 20).

Pletcher, 39, is now winless with 19 Derby starters spanning seven runnings of the race. Pletcher's five starters in one Derby equaled the number of runners sent out by D. Wayne Lukas in 1996 and Nick Zito, a two-time Derby winner, in 2005. Lukas won the '96 Derby with Grindstone, while Zito's best finish in 2005 was with favorite Bellamy Road, who was seventh. Pletcher tied Zito for third-most Derby starters, trailing four-time Derby winning trainers Lukas (42 starters) and H.J. "Dick" Thompson (24).

"For whatever reason no one really fired their 'A' race," Pletcher said as he made the walk from his box seat to the unsaddling area. "It's disappointing, but we'll try again next year. That's all I can do."

Pletcher seemed a bit surprised that Cowtown Cat pressed the early pace and was just a length off of Hard Spun through opening fractions of 22.90 seconds and 46.26. He didn't use that as an excuse, however, because Hard Spun held on for second behind Street Sense.

Pletcher said Edgar Prado told him that Scat Daddy was "spinning his wheels" during the running of the race. Also, Garrett Gomez said that Any Given Saturday "got knocked sideways a little bit at the top of the stretch."

Circular Quay, who was well back at the start, made a mild wide bid to be sixth, while Sam P. appeared to run an even race finishing ninth.

"I wish I could tell you guys I was going to go home and cry," Pletcher said. "I'm really not. I said it before, I don't think you can go into this race and say we're definitely going to win; it just doesn't work that way."

Pletcher has twice finished second in the Kentucky Derby, with Invisible Ink (2001) and Bluegrass Cat (2006). Pletcher admitted to being disappointed none of his runners could crack the top four on Saturday.

"I'm disappointed with that, but I can't tell you I would have felt that much better if I finished second," said Pletcher, whose runners finished one-two in Friday's Kentucky Oaks. "Been there done that."

And, most likely, he'll be back here next year to try again to do that one better.