05/05/2014 3:40PM

Pletcher regroups after Derby foursome disappoints

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Barbara D. Livingston
Danza, finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, is the lone member of trainer Todd Pletcher's Derby foursome who might run in the Preakness Stakes on May 17.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Win or lose last Saturday, trainer Todd Pletcher had to leave Churchill Downs quickly after the Kentucky Derby to make it back home in time for a family function Sunday.

His son Payton’s confirmation probably was a good diversion for Pletcher the day after what was a disappointing Derby Day for the six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer.

Though Danza ran a respectable third in Saturday’s 140th Kentucky Derby, Pletcher’s other three runners – We Miss Artie, Intense Holiday, and Vinceremos – finished 10th, 12th, and 17th behind California Chrome.

The results leave Pletcher with a record of one win, two seconds, and three thirds from 40 starters in 14 Kentucky Derbies.

“It’s disappointing anytime you don’t win,” Pletcher, who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, said Monday at Belmont. “We had two horses” he said, referring to Danza and Intense Holiday, “we thought had big chances going in. One ran very well to finish third, the other didn’t finish as good as we hoped.”

All four horses were headed in different directions for the time being. Danza was due to arrive at Pletcher’s Belmont Park barn Monday, and his condition will be evaluated, with the Preakness a slight possibility.

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Both Pletcher and Aron Wellman, whose Eclipse Thoroughbreds owns Danza, agreed to wait a few days before making any final decision on Danza’s next race. Danza had two stout races in three weeks – he won the Arkansas Derby on April 12 – and took a pretty hard bump from stablemate Vinceremos early in the Kentucky Derby that nearly pushed him into the rail.

“He almost bumped off the rail coming by the stands the first time, and it compromised his position at that point,” Pletcher said. “He had to alter course in the stretch and kept trying to the wire; thought he ran well.”

Though Pletcher doesn’t typically run back in the Preakness with horses coming out of the Derby, he said, “Nothing’s etched in stone one way or the other” regarding Danza.

We Miss Artie was shipped to Saratoga on Monday and, as a Canadian-bred, will be pointed to the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine on July 6. Pletcher said he has not decided when, or if, We Miss Artie would race before then.

Regarding the Derby, he said he instructed jockey Javier Castellano to take We Miss Artie off the pace and make a run, and that’s what he did.

“Javier said it took him a little while to get him settled,” Pletcher said.

Intense Holiday probably was the biggest disappointment based on how well he trained. Under John Velazquez, he was in fifth and a bit wide to a fairly modest pace before flattening out at the eighth pole.

Pletcher said Intense Holiday would be sent to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for a physical this week, and that would determine when he would return to Pletcher in New York.

Pletcher said Vinceremos, who previously finished last in the Blue Grass Stakes, would get 30 days of rest at WinStar Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Last Friday, Pletcher ran second in the Kentucky Oaks with My Miss Sophia. In the last three years, Pletcher has a win, two seconds, and a third in the Oaks. He said My Miss Sophia is a candidate for the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont on June 7.