Pletcher Sweeps Three Graded Stakes Saturday, Looks Forward To 2022

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher captured three of the four graded stakes carded Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y., led by a personal exacta with Americanrevolution and Following Sea in the featured $750,000 Grade 1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets.

Pletcher also saddled juveniles Mo Donegal and Nest to respective wins in the $250,000 G2 Remsen and $250,000 G2 Demoiselle, but the prosperous afternoon did not come without controversy as all three of his stakes winners survived objections/inquiries.

“Thankfully, everyone stayed up and everyone pulled up well,” Pletcher said. “It was an exciting day with plenty of drama. We were optimistic coming in that we had some horses training the way you’d want them to leading up to some big races. I’m happy they all delivered good performances.”

Americanrevolution, owned by WinStar Farm and CHC Inc., collared stablemate Following Sea in deep stretch to secure his first Grade 1 victory. Pletcher previously saddled 2001 Cigar Mile one-two finishers Left Bank and Graeme Hall.

The son of leading third-crop sire Constitution cut back to one mile after making three straight starts going nine furlongs. He entered the Cigar Mile from a victory against his Empire State-bred counterparts in the Empire Classic on October 30 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., following a third in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby one month prior at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Penn.

Manny Franco, aboard third-place finisher Plainsman, filed an objection for possible interference in mid-stretch of the Cigar Mile, but no change was made in the order of finish.

Pletcher said he was delighted to see Americanrevolution display capabilities at various distances, adding that he was much similar to that of his sire, a Pletcher stable alumna.

“There’s a lot of good horses that can sprint and route and he seems versatile enough to do that,” Pletcher said. “His sire was the same way. They were both talented horses.”

Pletcher, WinStar Farm, and CHC Inc. also campaign G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Life Is Good, who will point to the G1 Pegasus World Cup on January 29 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

“He [Americanrevolution] will go to WinStar and get a little freshening and we’ll come up with a game plan,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully things continue to go well with Life Is Good. He’ll start off in the Pegasus. We’ll try to keep those two on separate paths, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

Following Sea, a Spendthrift Farm owned son of Runhappy, entered the Cigar Mile from a troubled third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he drew the rail and had to steady in upper stretch, angling several paths wide before closing to round out the trifecta. Two starts back, he defeated multiple graded stakes-winner Firenze Fire in the G2 Vosburgh on October 9 at Belmont Park.

Following Sea also drew the rail in the Cigar Mile which Pletcher said could have had an effect on the outcome of both races.

“I feel bad for him drawing the rail twice in a row in two races where an outside post could have made a big difference in the outcome for him,” Pletcher said. “He was setting some pretty solid fractions for the way the track was playing yesterday while under some pressure from Ginobili and was able to shake him off. He fought hard to the wire, Americanrevolution just got some steam later. I was really proud of both horses’ performances.”

Pletcher said the G1 Metropolitan Handicap, traditionally run on the Belmont Stakes undercard, could be a long-term goal for Following Sea.

“We know he loves Belmont, so we’ll keep the Met Mile in play,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to the guys at Spendthrift, but we’ll probably take him to Florida and freshen him up a bit and target something like the [Grade 1] Carter [at Aqueduct].”

Donegal Racing’s Mo Donegal displayed determination in the Remsen, battling with impressive maiden winner Zandon down the Aqueduct stretch and coming out a half-length on top as both horses separated themselves by nearly 10 lengths from the rest of the field.

Mo Donegal, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, bumped with Zandon, piloted by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, in the final jumps, but a jockey’s objection by Velazquez and inquiry by the stewards resulted in no change to the order of finish.

“I liked the way he ran. Those two clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field,” Pletcher said. “He put himself into the race, got himself into a good position, and then he had to wait, wait, wait. He then had to angle out and lose a little ground and momentum when he did. He’s shown improvement in each start.”

Mo Donegal, a son of Uncle Mo, earned 10 points toward the 2022 Kentucky Derby for the Remsen score and Pletcher said the $400,000 G2 Fountain of Youth on March 5 at Gulfstream Park [50-20-10-5 qualifying points] could be a target.

“I’ll talk to Jerry [Crawford of Donegal Racing] about it. We talked about it before the race yesterday and told him we planned on going to Palm Beach this week,” Pletcher said. “We could use the Fountain of Youth on March 5 as a possible target. The great thing about that time of year is there’s a prep every weekend, so it’s a matter of figuring out the right one for him.”

Pletcher previously saddled Bluegrass Cat [2005] and Overanalyze [2012] to Remsen scores. Both horses competed in the Kentucky Derby the following year, finishing a respective second and 11th.

Following the Remsen, Pletcher captured the Demoiselle for the seventh time with Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House’s Nest.

The daughter of Curlin earned 10 qualifying points toward the 2022 Kentucky Oaks when capturing the Remsen’s female counterpart race. A claim of foul lodged by runner-up Venti Valentine’s trainer Jorge Abreu alleging interference in the stretch was dismissed.

Nest, a full-sister to G1 winner Idol, will target major preps on the Kentucky Oaks trail this winter.

“She’ll go down to Florida and we’ll look at a two-prep schedule for her leading up to the Oaks,” Pletcher said. “We’ll have to figure out what those two will be. I think everything is in play. It just comes down to timing really.”

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Pletcher added that G1-placed maiden Commandperformance will join his contingent at Palm Beach Downs in Del Ray Beach, Fla., after a freshening in Kentucky. Following a runner-up in the G1 Champagne, the son of Union Rags was fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.

“Everything is in play for him, including a maiden race,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher said he’s looking forward to the opportunities ahead for his stable next year.

“We’re excited. It’s great having some quality horses that are staying in training for another year,” Pletcher said. “We’re getting Malathaat back as well and we’re excited about our yearling crop as well. It’s fun and we’re looking forward to it, but we also know that every day is a new challenge.”

While Pletcher will soon take his show on the road to South Florida for the winter, he will still maintain a division in New York. Among the horses likely to remain in New York for the winter include recent maiden winner A Mo Reay, who Pletcher said will target the $100,000 Busanda on January 23 at Aqueduct – a 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifier.

Pletcher added that First Constitution, a last-out second in a November 28 allowance optional claimer, will remain in New York and target the $100,000 Jazil on January 22 at Aqueduct.

The post Pletcher Sweeps Three Graded Stakes Saturday, Looks Forward To 2022 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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