05/01/2010 11:00PM

Pletcher savors Derby win, looks ahead

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Barbara D. Livingston
Todd Pletcher holds the Derby trophy for the first time after Super Saver's victory.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - On Sunday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher made the same walk from his barn to the Churchill Downs Backside Media Center that he had made exactly one week earlier. Only this time, the feeling was completely different.

On April 25, a dejected Pletcher held a morning press conference to announce that the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby, Eskendereya, would have to miss the race due to an injury to his left foreleg.

Seven days later, a delighted Pletcher was back in the media center discussing what it was like to win his first Kentucky Derby with Super Saver and looking ahead to the Preakness Stakes on May 15 at Pimlico.

"I was thinking about that walking over here," Pletcher said. "A lot better feeling than last Sunday."

After nine years of disappointment in the Derby - with 24 starters - Pletcher finally got his first victory Saturday when Super Saver slid up the rail under Calvin Borel to win the 136th Derby by 2 1/2 lengths over a hard-luck Ice Box. While naturally happy to have won, Pletcher maintained his even-keeled personality.

"It's the one thing that was missing from our resume," Pletcher said. "I don't think it necessarily makes me a better trainer. As a trainer in the United States, there are a lot of big races you want to win, but I'm sure all my colleagues would agree the Derby is the one you want the most."

Super Saver earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for his Derby win. Pletcher said that Super Saver's "energy level was better than I would have expected," Sunday morning. Pletcher said that Super Saver would remain at Churchill Downs to train for the Preakness and that he may or may not have a workout before shipping to Baltimore on May 12.

"If he does breeze, it won't be much," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said none of the other three horses he ran in the Kentucky Derby would run back in the Preakness. He said Mission Impazible (ninth), the filly Devil May Care (10th) and Discreetly Mine (13th) all seemed to come out of the race well. He didn't discount Devil May Care running in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.

"I actually thought she ran a decent race, she just got a little late the last part," Pletcher said. "I still think the Belmont is worth considering."

A large field is likely for the Preakness, but until the horses from the Derby return to the track to train, their connections won't make any firm commitments. Trainer Nick Zito did not rule out the Preakness for Derby runner-up Ice Box, but said he is more likely to wait for the Belmont Stakes. Zito said he had to train Ice Box hard in the six weeks between his Florida Derby victory and the Kentucky Derby.

"It does take a lot out of them," Zito said. "I'd love to have him fresh and ready for the last one."

However, Zito said that "there is a good chance" Jackson Bend, who finished 12th in the Derby, would run back in the Preakness "if he has a good two weeks."

Others from the Derby that are being considered for the Preakness are Paddy O'Prado (third), Lookin At Lucky (sixth), and Dublin (eighth). Horses that skipped the Derby who are considering the Preakness include Derby Trial 1-2 finishers Hurricane Ike and Aikenite; Florida Derby runner-up Pleasant Prince; Louisiana Derby runner-up A Little Warm; Lexington runner-up Bushwhacked; Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Schoolyard Dreams; Robert Lewis winner Caracortado; and Illinois Derby fourth-place finisher Turf Melody.

Make Music for Me, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, will remain in Kentucky until his connections make a decision on his next start. Trainer Alexis Barba said she needed to talk to her owners first, but appeared to be leaning toward awaiting the Belmont Stakes. The horse was scheduled to ship to Keeneland to train on Monday or Tuesday.

Lookin At Lucky got roughed up in the early stages of the Derby when two horses forced him into the rail. He made a strong mid-race move but flattened out in the stretch. Baffert said he would evaluate how the horse is training before making a final decision on the Preakness.

"He's going to have to be training really well for me to take him to the Preakness," Baffert said.