Pletcher: Destin, Stradivari doing well after Belmont Stakes; Gettysburg not returning to barn
Edited Press Release
Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Destin, the narrowly beaten runner-up in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (G1), and fifth-place finisher Stradivari, exited the race in good shape.
"Both looked good this morning," Pletcher said outside his barn after training hours on Sunday. "I was pleased with the way they both bounced out of it pretty quickly for a mile-and-a-half race."
With an eye on the $1.25 million Travers (G1) for both Destin and Stradivari, Pletcher is considering a few different possibilities to get his three-year-olds to Saratoga's marquee event on August 27.
The $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) on July 30, the local prep for the Travers, and the $ 1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 31, are possible for both though Pletcher pointed out Stradivari is also eligible to run in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 29 as a prep for the Travers.
Until a week before the Belmont, Pletcher trained the Belmont Stakes pacesetter, Gettysburg, who finished eighth. The WinStar Farm-owned colt was transferred to Steve Asmussen's care to insure a pace presence for the Asmussen-trained Creator, who is also owned by WinStar, and Exaggerator, who will stand as a stallion at WinStar upon the completion of his racing career.
"I did not feel like running Gettysburg was in my two horses' best interests, and I had an obligation to those owners, and WinStar felt it was in their best interests to run Gettysburg, and that's why that decision was made," said Pletcher, reiterating the events of the past week.
When Pletcher was asked Sunday if the outcome would have been different for Destin, who prompted the pace set by Gettysburg, before taking over the lead at the quarter-pole, he responded, "I guess we'll never know."
Pletcher said he didn't actually anticipate that Destin, who was ridden by Javier Castellano, would be as close to the pace as he was.
"I actually anticipated that Stradivari more likely would have been following Gettysburg, and Destin kind of left the gate a little sharper," the trainer admitted. "He was the first one to make that run and the first one to put pressure on (Gettysburg).
"Javier waited as long as he could and he kind of inherited the lead," Pletcher continued. "I never really thought watching it that (Destin) lost focus, pricked his ears, and looked at something. I think he kept digging and kept fighting. Who knows (what would have happened) if he would have been loose on the lead…he has never given me the impression of the kind of horse that would know what to do with that but, again, we don't know."
Pletcher remarked that he spoke to Elliott Walden, WinStar's president/CEO and racing manager, and told him he thought it would be best that Gettysburg did not return to his care. In the post-race press conference after the Belmont Stakes, Walden's remarks indicated that Gettysburg would return to Pletcher.
"I spoke to Elliott this morning and I think it is probably best – I don't think it is a good look if he comes back to us really. I think it is better if it doesn't happen," Pletcher said.
Creator & Destin photo courtesy of Ronnie Betor/Horsephotos.com