04/24/2010 11:00PM

Pletcher adjusts, Eskendereya waits

Barbara D. Livingston
Mission Impazible (right) works in company with his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Rule on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rain on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs forced trainer Todd Pletcher to adjust some of the final training for his prospective starters for next Saturday's 136th Kentucky Derby, but he won't mind at all if it pays off, and those April showers bring May flowers.

Pletcher is seeking his first Derby win after nine tries, totaling 24 runners, and he could have a record number of horses in this year's Run for the Roses. Pletcher, who co-owns the record of five horses in a single Derby, still has seven horses under consideration for this year's race, and while it is unlikely all seven would run, six is not out of the question, and five seems almost certain.

There are several questions that need to be answered before entry time on Wednesday, though, most notably whether Pletcher decides to run the filly Devil May Care against the boys, and the condition of the Derby favorite, Eskendereya.

Eskendereya had a workout planned for Saturday postponed because of wet weather, and while Eskendereya did have a routine gallop, there is at least circumstantial evidence that Pletcher is trying to nurse Eskendereya through some issues. After training hours on Saturday, every horse at Pletcher's barn who was walking the shed row had their training bandages removed except for Eskendereya. This follows a postponed final prep, from the Florida Derby to the Wood Memorial two weeks later, and the addition of front bandages for the Wood Memorial.

"The last two races," Pletcher said, referring to runaway victories by Eskendereya in the Wood and Fountain of Youth Stakes, "he has separated himself from everyone. There's still a long ways to go. We're keeping our fingers crossed all the time."

John Velazquez is the regular jockey for Eskendereya. If Devil May Care runs in the Derby along with Eskendereya, the filly would need a new rider. But if for some reason Eskendereya were to come out, Velazquez would be free to ride her in the Derby. There is also the chance Devil May Care remains with her brethren and runs in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, Eskendereya runs Saturday, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Pletcher said he would talk on Monday with John Greathouse, whose Glencrest Farm owns Devil May Care, to decide which race in which to run. Oaks entries are taken on Tuesday, Derby entries on Wednesday, and Pletcher said there is the possibility Devil May Care could be entered in both races, which is perfectly legal.

Both races are expected to have oversubscribed fields. The Oaks is limited to 14 runners, the Derby 20, with both fields determined by earnings in graded stakes races if more than the maximum enter.

"We want to be respectful of anyone's chances of getting into the races, but we're obligated to do the best for our filly," Pletcher said. "If we get post 20 for the Derby, and 6 for the Oaks, that might sway us."

In addition to Devil May Care and Eskendereya, Pletcher's Derby prospects include Discreetly Mine, Interactif, Mission Impazible, Rule, and Super Saver. Interactif - whom Pletcher has called "doubtful" for the Derby - and Eskendereya merely galloped on Saturday morning, while the other five all worked, with Devil May Care posting the most eye-catching move, five furlongs in 1:00.10 on the sloppy track with exercise rider Patti Barry.

"She did it effortlessly," Pletcher said.

Mission Impazible and Rule worked five furlongs in tandem, with Mission Impazible appearing to go the better of the two. Super Saver worked a half-mile, and Discreetly Mine went five furlongs.

Pletcher said he felt comfortable putting off Eskendereya's work because he's a big horse, so working him closer to the Derby is not as critical from a recovery standpoint as with a smaller, lighter horse. "And I don't know that he loves a wet track," Pletcher said.

A steady rain fell early Saturday morning, leaving the track sloppy. All the workers waited to go until after the mid-morning renovation break.

Sidney's Candy was the first horse to work, and he zipped six furlongs in 1:11.44 under his regular jockey, Joe Talamo. It was a new experience for a horse who has made his previous starts on synthetic surfaces, and whose previous work here was on a dry dirt track.

"He'd never been on an off track," said John Sadler, the trainer of Sidney's Candy. "I crossed my fingers when he went out there."

Sidney's Candy has a quarter crack patch on the inside of his right front hoof, but Sadler said the patch is several months old.

The wet weather did impact Backtalk, whose graded earnings currently leave him just outside the prospective Derby field. His trainer, Tom Amoss, elected to send Backtalk to Keeneland late Saturday in order to work on the all-weather Polytrack surface on Sunday morning.

- additional reporting by Byron King