Todd Pletcher Follows Belmont Script with Destin

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D.S. Williamson

May 29th, 2016

Todd Pletcher is following a past successful Belmont strategy with Destin. Pletcher has never had a ton of success winning the Kentucky Derby, and even worse success winning the Preakness Stakes. But he usually saddles competitive horses in the Belmont. Although neither Madefromlucky nor Materiality did much of note in the 2015 Belmont, Pletcher has 1 possible horse and 1 probable horse in the 2016 Test of Champions that should have a say in the outcome.

Stradivari may or may not run in the Belmont. My guess is that the son of Medaglia D'Oro will take a vacation for about a month before showing up at Saratoga. Stradivari ran a valiant 4th in the Preakness Stakes a couple of weeks ago. It was simply a case of too much too soon for the talented three-year-old.

Pletcher's possible horse for the Test of Champions is Destin. Destin is the three-year-old that has followed Pletcher's traditional Belmont path. While Stradivari ran in the Preakness Stakes, Destin skipped the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown in order to get ready for the Belmont. See below for other Pletcher Kentucky Derby horses that have skipped the Preakness to come back and run well in the Belmont Stakes.
Palace Malice - Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes twice. His first winner, Rags to Riches in 2007, didn't run in the Kentucky Derby. But Pletcher's second winner, Palace Malice, did run in the Derby in 2013. For those who forget, it was Palace Malice who was on the lead in the 2013 Run for the Roses. He ended up finishing 12th in the Derby after running a half -mile in :45.33. Orb won the Derby in 2013, but Palace Malice would get his revenge in the Belmont 5 weeks later. He relaxed much better in the Belmont even though he was only 2 to 3 lengths off of a quick pace and had to go wide around the first turn. Palace Malice went on to win the Jim Dandy, the Gulfstream Park Handicap, the New Orleans Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap.

Bluegrass Cat - Bluegrass Cat looked like a winner around the turn in the 2006 Belmont Stakes. He still seemed to have a shot to pull off the win as Jazil came up to him. The second place finisher in the Kentucky Derby was one of the favorites in the Belmont. Although Bluegrass Cat finished second to the great Bernardini in the Travers, he did manage to win the Haskell Invitational. Bluegrass Cat currently stands at Ballena Vista Farms in Ramona, California. His off-spring have done well on the racetrack even though he hasn't as of yet saddled a champion.  
Stay Thirsty - Just like Bluegrass Cat, it sure looked like Stay Thirsty was going to give Pletcher another Belmont victory. Stay Thirsty rode the rail all the way to a second place finish in the 2011 Belmont Stakes. Stay Thirsty had a horrible trip in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 12th. But in the Belmont, he actually took the lead over Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford before losing it late to Ruler on Ice. Stay Thirsty would go on to win the Jim Dandy and the Travers in 2011. He also won his final career race, the Cigar Mile Handicap, in 2012.  
Dunkirk - 2009 saw yet another tough Belmont loss for Todd Pletcher. Dunkirk finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the Florida Derby. Dunkirk went off as the 9/2 second choice behind big time favorite and Derby winner Mine That Bird. After being headed in the stretch, Dunkirk responded to cues from John Velasquez to finish second to Summer Bird. The Belmont was Dunkirk's final race. Dunkirk stands at East Stud in Hokkaido, Japan.


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