Pletcher rebuts claim of Preakness 'allergy'

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TwinSpires Staff

May 16th, 2016

Edited Preakness press release

Todd Pletcher knows his Preakness (G1) reputation: That he’s “allergic” to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course. The seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said nothing is farther from the truth, noting he’s just trying to enhance his horses’ chances of winning major races down the road after the grind of the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Pletcher’s record is 1-2-3 with 45 Kentucky Derby starters, including triumphant Super Saver in 2010. That puts him three starters behind his former boss, D. Wayne Lukas’ record of 48.

Pletcher’s best Triple Crown record comes in the Belmont S. (G1) at his New York base, where Pletcher is 2-3-2 out of 16 starters, winning in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice. His Preakness ledger: one third (Impeachment in 2000, his first time in the race) in seven starts, the last being in 2011, when Dance City was fifth.

But with current Preakness candidate Stradivari, Pletcher said he has a lightly raced colt who deserves a chance. The son of Medaglia d’Oro was fourth in his November 8 debut at Aqueduct before winning a Gulfstream Park off-the-turf maiden race by 11 and a 1 1/8-mile Keeneland allowance by 14.

“First of all, I have nothing against the Preakness,” Pletcher said. “I love Pimlico. I love the people who work there. I have the utmost respect for the Preakness, and I would absolutely love to win it.

“Saying that, for as bad as our Derby record is, I think our record is pretty good with horses coming out of the Derby and having productive campaigns afterwards. I attribute that in some part to the fact that we recognize how difficult the Derby trail can be, how taxing the Derby can be on horses and by giving them time, passing the Preakness and either pointing to the Belmont or other race .

“Stay Thirsty, for example, improved a lot in the (2011) Belmont, finishing second and then was able to go on and win the Jim Dandy (G2) and Travers (G1). Take Verrazano, he was disappointing in the (2013) Derby but came back and won the Pegasus (G3) and the Haskell (G1). Palace Malice comes back and wins the Belmont.”

Pletcher also could have mentioned Flower Alley, who was ninth in the 2005 Derby and didn’t race again until summer, giving the trainer his first Travers victory.

“It’s worked well for us,” he said. “We’ve picked the few horses that we’ve run back in the Preakness. Impeachment was third. Then we’ve run a few like Aikenite and King of the Roxy that unfortunately weren’t in the Derby because they didn’t qualify or just weren’t quite up to a classic standard. But it was nothing personal about skipping Preakness.

“We take a lot of shots in the Derby, and we’ve run a lot of long shots, frankly a lot of horses that probably had no shots. But we’ve corrected those mistakes by not doing it two times in a row in two weeks.”

Stradivari galloped 1 3/8 miles Monday at Belmont Park.

Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/