2022 in Review: A record year for trainer Todd Pletcher

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

December 27th, 2022

With stable earnings of more than $30.3 million, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has enjoyed a record season in 2022. This year has been the stable's best since 2015, when it bankrolled $26.2 million, and has surpassed Pletcher's former single-season mark of $28.1 million set in 2007.

This year has been a welcome rebound from recent seasons. Like many outfits, Pletcher's fortunes took a dip during the pandemic year of 2020, when the stable accumulated only $11.1 million in earnings, its lowest figure since 2002. This season's earnings are also up more than a third from 2021.

Another sign of the stable's success this year is that Pletcher-trained horses are heavily favored to win three division titles when the 2022 Eclipse Awards are announced next month. The likely champions are Forte as best two-year-old male, Nest as best three-year-old filly, and Malathaat as best older dirt female.

This would be the second time Pletcher has trained three individual champions in a single season. Unsurprisingly, the other occurrence was in his previous best year of 2007: Rags to Riches as three-year-old filly, Lawyer Ron as older male, and English Channel as turf male.

Although quality has become increasingly concentrated among a handful or two of stables in recent decades, training three individual champions in a single season is still a relatively rare accomplishment. Pletcher's mentor, D. Wayne Lukas, also accomplished the feat twice.

In 1988, Lukas conditioned champions Open Mind as best two-year-old filly, Winning Colors as best three-year-old filly, and Gulch as best sprinter. In 1995, Lukas was represented by two-year-old filly Golden Attraction, three-year-old male Thunder Gulch, and three-year-old filly Serena's Song.

The only other trainer in the Eclipse Award era (1971-present) to do the same has been Bob Baffert. In 2020, Baffert conditioned three-year-old male Authentic, older dirt male Improbable, and female sprinter Gamine.

The 35-year period before the Eclipse Awards (1936-70) saw two trainers accomplish a single-season championship triple. When the mighty Calumet Farm was on top of the racing world in the late 1940s, H. A. "Jimmy" Jones had three champions in 1947: Citation as two-year-old male, Bewitch as two-year-old filly, and Armed as older male. In 1949, the stable had older male Coaltown, older female Bewitch, and the co-champion three-year-old fillies Two Lea and Wistful (in both years Jones' father, Ben, insisted on being the trainer of record for some races involving the aforementioned horses).

Two decades later, Eddie Neloy enjoyed a terrific year in 1967 as private trainer to the Phipps family. His champions that season were Vitriolic as two-year-old male, Queen of the Stage as two-year-old filly, and Buckpasser as older male.

It will presumably be difficult for Pletcher to equal or better this season's accomplishments in 2023. Although Forte and Nest are scheduled to stay in training, Malathaat is heading to the breeding shed after two division titles and male stars Life Is Good, Mind Control, and Mo Donegal, the Belmont S. (G1) winner, have also been lost to retirement. However, at age 55, Pletcher figures to have many more years in which to secure an unprecedented treble with three or more individual champions in a single season.