Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pletcher May Run Five at Derby

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pletcher May Run Five at Derby

Article excerpt

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -If at least four of his five Kentucky Derby-eligible horses make it to the starting gate on May 6, then trainer Todd Pletcher will pass D. Wayne Lukas for the most total entries in the history of the Run for the Roses.

"That only means something if I had as many winners as he's had," cracked Pletcher on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.

The legendary Lukas has entered 48 horses in the Kentucky Derby with four taking the blanket of roses after hitting the finish line first.

Pletcher, a former Lukas assistant, has placed 45 in the starting gate for the Derby with one first-place finish, that coming from Super Saver back in 2010.

Still, Pletcher is always right back trying year after year. Since 2000, he missed the Derby just once, in 2003. In both 2007 and 2013 he sent out five entries for the mile-and-a-quarter race. Lukas in 1996 and Nick Zito in 2005 are the only other trainers to have as many as five entries in a single Derby.

Pletcher could send another quintet again this year, including the impressive Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming; Wood Memorial runner-up Battalion Runner; Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwrit; Louisiana Derby runner-up Patch and Rebel Stakes winner Malagacy.

If not a fabulous five, it is at the least formidable.

"We're optimistic," Pletcher said.

A quick rundown:

* Always Dreaming: His 5-length romp in the Florida Derby was arguably the most impressive of all the Kentucky Derby preps. The winning time of 1:47.47 especially turned heads.

"Any time you run a sub 1:48 for a mile and an eighth that's pretty rare territory," Pletcher said.

The Florida Derby has produced 23 Kentucky Derby winners, including Nyquist last year. A son of Bodemeister (second in the 2012 Kentucky Derby), Always Dreaming is three-for-three since coming to Pletcher's barn.

* Battalion Runner: Pletcher pointed out the Wood Memorial was Battalion Runner's first race in 64 days and first at a mile-and-an-eighth. …

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