Kentucky Derby ‘In Play’ For Pletcher Trainee Dr Post

Under normal circumstances, a workout in the second week of August for a top 3-year-old at Saratoga would mean continued preparation for the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers. But 2020 has changed schedules across the sporting landscape, with the Travers having already been contested on August 8. Instead, St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post will continue on the Saratoga work tab with a potential spot in the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on September 5 serving as a target for the Todd Pletcher trainee.

Dr Post, who was the runner-up to Tiz the Law [the subsequent Travers winner] in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 20, ran third in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 18 at Monmouth Park. The Quality Road colt registered his first work since that effort on August 7, going four furlongs in 50.55 over the Spa’s main track. Pletcher said he is slated to work again Friday morning.

“He’s doing well and we expect him to go out tomorrow and we’ll continue to monitor how he trains,” Pletcher said.

Dr Post has accumulated 80 qualifying points for the “Run for the Roses” with $331,035 in non-restricted stakes earnings, putting him eighth on the leaderboard for what once again could be the Derby’ famed full 20-horse field.

Since running fourth in his debut in July 2019 at Belmont, Dr Post has finished on the board in his last four starts, including a maiden breaking win in his sophomore bow on March 29 at Gulfstream Park before winning the Unbridled at 1 1/16 miles on April 25 at the same track.

“We’ll check in with the owners and figure out a game plan,” Pletcher said. “The Derby is in play for sure. We’re happy with the way he’s going, so we’ll see how the next couple of weeks go.”

Pletcher holds the record for most all-time starters in the Derby with 54. Since saddling his first in 2000, Pletcher has won the prestigious race twice, first with Super Saver in 2010 and most recently with Always Dreaming in 2017. He has finished second twice and third on four occasions, and his total number of starts is five more than the next-closest competitor in Hall of Famer and Pletcher mentor D. Wayne Lukas [49 starters].

Despite his history in the Derby, Pletcher is in the same situation as his fellow conditioners, as the Derby will be held as the middle jewel of the Triple Crown instead of the opener to accommodate the revised schedule for 3-year-olds in training that saw the Belmont Stakes serve as the first leg of the American Classic series for the first time ever two months ago.

“This time of year, you’re usually focused on the Travers that would be coming up in a week or so,” Pletcher said. “It’s been an unusual year all the way around. The training itself is the same, but when we’d normally have the sales, a lot of the visitors we’d normally have has decreased.”

Before shifting his focus to Kentucky, Pletcher has a lot on the Saratoga docket, with Moretti eying a possible start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on September 5. Owned by Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Moretti has improved as a 4-year-old, finishing first or second in all five starts.

The Medaglia d’Oro colt has thrived at longer distances, winning his return to stakes company with a 5 ¼-length score in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out over a sloppy and sealed Belmont track on June 11 that netted a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. On faster surfaces, Moretti continued to do well, running second to Tacitus in the Grade 2 Suburban at the Woodward’s 1 ¼-mile distance on July 4 before besting stablemate You’re to Blame in the marathon 1 ¾-mile Birdstone on August 2 at Saratoga.

Moretti is 3-1-1 in six starts going at least 1 1/8 miles.

“I was happy with the way he came out of it. He came out of the race well and we’re keeping an eye on the Woodward at the moment,” Pletcher said. “He likes the track and it’s a mile and a quarter. That’s probably the closest we’ll get to a marathon-type race with a Grade 1 attached to it. So, we have to consider it.”

On Saturday, Spice Is Nice will return to stakes action against a high caliber field in the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies in Race 9 at Saratoga. Owned by Robert and Lawana Low, Spice Is Nice came off a three-month layoff to best optional claimers by 2 ¾ lengths on July 3 at Belmont.

The Curlin filly will now face a steep jump in class in the “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November at Keeneland. Spice Is Nice drew post 2 in the seven-horse field for the 1 ¼-mile Alabama and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind even-money favorite Swiss Skydiver.

“We needed to get that race under her belt to get her ready for this,” Pletcher said. “She’s been training well since then. It’s a very strong field – stronger than I anticipated – but I think the distance suits her, so we’ll see if she can step up.”

Pletcher will saddle two in Saturday’s other Saratoga stakes, with Colonel Liam and No Word in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational going 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf in the opener of the New York Racing Association’s Turf Triple series for 3-year-olds.

No Word, owned by Wertheimer and Frere, is a last-out winner against optional claimers who will be making his second career stakes start and first since running fifth in the Grade 3 Pilgrim to cap his juvenile year in September at Belmont.
No Word, 2-0-2 in five career starts, drew post 3 in the eight-horse field and is listed at 15-1 on the morning line. He returns to Saratoga for the first time since winning his debut last August going 1 1/16 miles.

“He’s a consistent horse who has performed well for us all the time,” Pletcher said. “He broke his maiden here, so hopefully that means he likes the turf course here. I think he’s coming up to it in good order.”

His stablemate, Colonel Liam, drew post 6 and is listed at 7-2. Also owned by Robert and Lawana Low, the son of Liam’s Map won his first race on turf last month at the Spa and will now take a big step up in class following his 100 Beyer against older allowance company at 1 1/16 miles going against six other competitors on July 22. He was purchased as a 2-year-old for $1.2 million at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale.

Social Paranoia could be returning to the work tab in the next few weeks at Saratoga, Pletcher said. Owned by The Elkstone Group, the 4-year-old son of Street Boss has not breezed since winning the Grade 3 Poker on July 4 at Belmont.

Social Paranoia tied a personal best with a 100 Beyer for his win in the eight-horse Poker field, rallying from seventh to beat Seismic Wave by one length in the one-mile route. He started his 2020 campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Appleton in March at Gulfstream and is 4-4-5 in 15 career starts, nearing millionaire status with $929,710 in earnings.

“He’s due back in training probably at the end of the month,” Pletcher said.

The post Kentucky Derby ‘In Play’ For Pletcher Trainee Dr Post appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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