05/27/2014 3:51PM

Pletcher replaces Lukas atop money list

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Barbara D. Livingston
Todd Pletcher's runners had earned $268,512,294 through Tuesday, the most in Thoroughbred racing history.

ELMONT, N.Y. – As a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, trainer Todd Pletcher has tremendous respect for what he’s accomplished in Thoroughbred racing. So, when Pletcher passed Lukas on Monday as the North American-based trainer who has earned the most purse money, he put the accomplishment in its proper perspective.

“Like I’ve said before, the only reason we’re going to pass Wayne is because of inflation,” Pletcher, a six-time Eclipse Award winner, said. “His accomplishments dwarf anyone else’s in the business. All that being said, it’s a significant milestone for us, proud of it, and hopefully we can continue on.”

By winning all three stakes at Belmont Park on Monday – topped by Jack Milton’s 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Poker – and earning money in other races at Belmont and Monmouth Park, Pletcher became the sport’s all-time leading money earner with $268,512,294.

Through Tuesday, Pletcher, 46, had won 3,532 races from 15,482 starters. Lukas, 78, has won 4,724 races from 27,936 starters. Lukas has won 14 Triple Crown races to Pletcher’s three.

Pletcher enjoyed a terrific Memorial Day at Belmont, winning the $200,000 Pennine Ridge with Gala Award and the $100,000 Jersey Girl with Red Velvet as well as the Poker. It was sort of ironic that Pletcher won the Jersey Girl, named after the filly with whom Pletcher won his first stakes and first Grade 1.

But it was Jack Milton’s performance that might have been the most impressive. Settling behind a solid pace, Jack Milton rallied five wide in the stretch and rolled by his five rivals, covering a mile in 1:33.09. He earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Settled really well,” Pletcher said. “We anticipated there’d be good pace up front. He actually settled I felt almost too much for a moment, but obviously it allowed him to deliver a big kick. I think he’s a horse with enough quality he’ll probably do a lot of things. You might argue a mile is his best distance.”

Pletcher did not have a particular spot picked out for Jack Milton, though the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga in August is a likely goal.

Gala Award earned an automatic bid into the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 5.

Top money-winning trainers of all time

1. Todd A. Pletcher* ($268,512,294)
2. D. Wayne Lukas* (268,467,262)
3. Robert J. Frankel (227,912,709)
4. William I. Mott* (225,974,643)
5. Steven M. Asmussen* (217,086,455)
6. Bob Baffert* (204,884,736)
7. Jerry Hollendorfer* (150,247,163)
8. Ronald L. McAnally* (125,012,670)
9. Richard E. Mandella* (123,950,246)
10. Claude R. McGaughey III* (123,646,572)
* Currently active

Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
I'd wager the late great Bobby Frankel had a better $ per race than all of them. I feel he had fewer starters with higher money per race avg. Also he raced in NY back when purses were very small.
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
Inflation or not, this is an impressive achievement.
Bob More than 1 year ago
But with minimal success in the Breeder's Cup and the Triple Crown, the two pinnacles of real success in racing!
chris More than 1 year ago
i guess if your going to base any entire year on 15 or so races than you could say he hasnt accomplished very much. He did lead the world in graded stakes earnings, which if you are an owner is exactly what you are looking for. If I owned a high quality horse, Pletcher would be the first name on my trainer's list without hesitation.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Todd, Answer the questions posed to you on HBO Real Sports last week. It is something you should address instead of going on HRTV and saying horse racing needs good publicity. You personally bring it bad publicity.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
Just to keep things in perspective: Purses have increased in recent years; this would enhance Todd's total significantly. Not to say this achievement is tarnished by it; it isn't.
John Jp More than 1 year ago
One cheater learned from a better cheater. Bobby Frankel, Ron McAnally, Shug...true horsemen